What is that smell

What Is That Smell? Is My HVAC Unit Ok?

Did you know that natural gas has no smell? The scent is added to alert people to the dangers when a leak occurs. But do you know what the other characteristic odors are that could spell trouble in your home?

If you switch on the heating or air-con and get suspicious scents, you really can't ignore it. Read on as we answer the question "What is that smell?" so you can keep your household safe this season.

Safe Smells

When you first turn on your HVAC or heating system for the season, you may encounter a smell of burnt dust. This is perfectly normal and is just an accumulation on the vents, registers, and heat exchangers as the furnace fire up and burns them away. Luckily, this should go quickly and only be noticeable the first few times you start it. 

This can be prevented by cleaning the system before you begin. Hire a professional to do this for you and perform maintenance. This will allow them to alert you to any problems that could arise in the coming months, so you are not left with unexpected HVAC outages. 

There are a few smells that will require immediate assistance. They can signal problems with the HVAC components. In some cases, breathing them in may even be harmful or fatal.

Burnt Electrics

Burnt dust and electrical burning have a similar scent. However, burnt electrics often has a slightly more metallic and plastic smell to them. It will give the scent of something that is overheating or has burnt out. 

When you get this, turn off your system right away. The danger is that leaving it on could result in an electrical fire if you have an old system with fewer safety functions. Once it is off, you can check for issues safely. 

Start by looking at the air filters. If they are blocked, the system works overtime, and the electric resistance heaters can start to get too hot. To prevent this, make sure you are replacing your air filters regularly. 

If air filters are not the issue, it is something to do with the wiring. Turn the electricity to the system off immediately. Unless you are a trained electrician, you need to call a trained HVAC repair engineer to assess the situation. 


The smell of sulfur is characterized by the scent of rotten eggs. If you don't have any cause for this to occur naturally in the home, you need to act fast. Open your windows, leave the home and call your local gas company. 

A rotten egg smell is often the sign of a gas leak. Gas is naturally odorless, but many companies add scents to tell people when leaks occur. It is not something you should ever ignore. 

Chemical Odor

There is only one chemical that could cause issues in your HVAC system. That is the refrigerant in the heat exchanger. Its job is to remove heat from the combustion chamber and deposit it into the plenum. 

A faint smell of chemicals such as formaldehyde signals a leak. This can start electrical fires. However, more worrying is that it can send deadly carbon monoxide gas into your home. 


Mustiness is most associated with HVAC systems. They contain a lot of moisture which can pool in their many vents and spots. If left unattended, this can turn into mold. 

Luckily, mustiness is not a smell that is usually harmful to you or the system. It will, however, make your air quality suffer. Run the heater for a few hours and see if the smell vanishes. 

If not, you will need to get professional assistance to remove the smell. An HVAC technician will know the nooks and crannies where mold builds. They will also have to tools to get into these spots and solve any issues, as well as preventing them from returning. 


A burning oil smell can be the result of two problems. Neither of them is dangerous, but it is a very unpleasant odor that needs removing from the home. 

Check around the system. If you can not see any oil, then you may have issues with the oil burner. Soot and smoke indicate more serious issues, along with odd sounds. 

If you do find oil, then something may be wrong with the fittings. Check and tighten any oil lines, filters, and fittings. If leaks still occur, the threads may have gone, and the part may need replacing. 


As well as a rotten egg smell, gas also has its own characteristic tinge. This most commonly occurs when you first put the heating system on at the start of the season. 

A faint gas smell that dissipates should be fine. However, you should still get a technician to look at it. It may be a case of dust getting burnt off. 

A lingering or strong smell is a serious issue. Follow the same instructions your would for a rotten egg smell, opening windows, and leaving the home. The gas could ignite and could make you and your family sick. 



An odor that persists, or smells of gas or smoke, should be dealt with immediately. Anything else will end be more unpleasant than dangerous. However, it may be hard to get someone to deal with this at the start of a season, as many people fire up their systems and find the same problems. 

The best way to deal with this is prevention. Hire a regular maintenance service to clean the system and notify you of possible problems before they occur. 

What Is That Smell?

Now you can answer the question "What is that smell?" you should know if you have a major problem. In any case, the issue will need dealing with unless you can stand to live with the odor in your property.

Your first stop for HVAC maintenance and repair should be P&M HVAC. We provide services, financing, and reviews to the Houston area. Contact us here to discuss your needs and schedule our services starting today. 

Houston Air Conditioning Services

How to Find the Best Houston Air Conditioning Services

Got a broken down air conditioner?

You need to get it fixed as soon as possible. Heatwaves can get fatal, especially around arid cities like Houston.

That said, you shouldn’t go down the DIY route. You’ll need to hire experienced professionals who come armed with the training and proper equipment.

Unfortunately, they are a dime-a-dozen nowadays. How do you know which Houston air conditioning services to rely on? How do you know which team won’t scam you and can get the job done right?

We’re here to help! Simply utilize the following steps to make sure you hire only the best in the business:

1. Take Note of Your Needs

When looking for Houston air conditioning services, consider taking note of what you need. This includes the AC specifications that you will need for your home. Take note of the rooms within your home or building that feel uncomfortable due to the unbearable temperatures.

Once you have all those details with you, you need to identify the unit model to make sure you find the appropriate replacement parts. A great AC repair company can help you find this.

Also, make sure to evaluate your reasons before calling.

2. Look into License Requirements

Before hiring an HVAC service company, look for air conditioning services that meet the license requirements and certifications within Houston, TX. Check what requirements are in place within the area. Among these requirements include their license, training certification, insurance, and safety certification.

The reason behind this is to see if the contractors have knowledge in areas about heating and cooling systems. Details such as airflow, refrigerant, ductwork, and electrical wiring. Training on critical safety issues also come into play with this requirement.

Also, be sure to check into the contractor’s continuing education. This is due to the ever-changing nature of technology as the years pass.

You want legit contractors. Checking for their business permits, licenses, and certification help stave off scammers.

3. Verify Their Credentials

Once you have checked their requirements, also look into the contractor’s credentials. Make sure to see if they have a Construction Contractors Board number or at least any similar equivalent.

Do not hesitate to ask for it if their website does not have that information available.

Once you have that number, verify that license if it is active. A reputable contractor would gladly provide this information.

Also, verify their liability insurance coverage by asking for proof of coverage. That is also another piece of info that they should provide right away.

4. Ask for References

Before jumping in, ask for references and verify. A great AC contractor will provide at least 3 references that you can check with. This way, you can contact said references and have information on how they performed and provided their services.

You’ll also learn about the contractor’s work ethics. This lets you know if they came in on time or performed by the deadline. These details can help you in deciding whether you should hire them or not.

5. Check the Reviews

Make it a habit to check for reviews posted by previous clients. Through it, you can also see what their thoughts were on the services rendered by the contractor. This is a great alternative in case you don’t get to sit down and talk to the clients they referenced.

You can find these details on Facebook and other social media pages. Yelp is also a good source for reviews on contractors. These reviews tend to have information on how the contractors addressed the client’s problems.

This method would require a lot of digging and research. The information that you find could prove reliable in the decision-making process.

6. Safety Precautions

You should also check what kind of safety precautions the company follows. Even something as mundane as air conditioning repair could lead to accidents and deaths. It’s always better to hire a team that understands the importance of following safety protocols.

Do they wear helmets or other important safety gear? Are all their ladders or tools up to date?

7. Always Have Estimates in Writing

When asking for a price estimate on the services and models, do not go with a verbal estimate. Especially if this estimate came up over the phone. You need proof of the given estimate and this requires an in-depth study of your HVAC system.

When inquiring about estimates on air conditioning services, there are other factors involved. These factors need thorough inspection and check-up. This way, a specialist can look into the residence and take note of specific measurements (such as insulation and window size) and factor them when making an estimate.

With these details, always make it a point that you have the estimates placed in writing. Also, have these itemized for a detailed breakdown.

8. Insist on Getting Energy-Efficient Models

When picking AC models, always make it a point to take the energy-efficient ones. Always look for the Energy Star logo. Experienced technicians always have this in mind and would insist on this as well.

9. Request for a Written Proposal

Once you have chosen and selected your contractor, ask them to provide you a written proposal. This is something for both of you to review and sign before starting the job.

This proposal would specify details like the cost, job schedules, model numbers, and so on. It also includes warranty information and payment schedules, along with information to protect you should problems arise. If they refuse, choose a different company.

Hire the Best Houston Air Conditioning Services Today!

Whether for installation or repair, you need to choose the best. Make sure that they have the reputation, skill, and knowledge when it comes to heating and cooling systems. Only choose the reputable and the best for this.

When it comes to Houston Air Conditioning Services, choose one that you can rely on.

We offer services such as repair, installation, and maintenance. Whether it is for heating or cooling systems, we can help with whatever suits your needs. Contact us today, we are ready to assist you.