Whilst most Australians are lucky enough to enjoy fairly warm water nearly year-round you'll need a reliable heater when the temperatures start to dip lower on those winter evenings. When you switch on the electric heater for the first time each winter, you might notice an odd odour. Whilst it might be a short-lived issue, an odd odour could also indicate serious problems that must be attended to straight away. Here are some common reasons that you might notice an odour whilst using your heater for the first time this winter.
Because you haven't used the electric heater for many months (since last winter,) it's quite likely that dust has accumulated on the exterior parts of the heating system components. When the system starts for the first time, that dust heats up and starts to burn away. Whilst it won't cause a fire, the odour is rather unpleasant. The good news is that this is quite common and that it typically resolves after only a few minutes -- usually half an hour at most. If you notice this burned dust odour for longer than that, there may be other problems at work, and you need to contact your HVAC professional.
A Clogged Air Filter
When the air filter is clogged up with debris and dust, the heater motor has to redouble its efforts to move warm air into your home. After some time, this added strain on the motor causes damage to the internal components...and soon, an electrical type odour. If you notice an electric odour whilst your heater is switched on, check your air filter straight away -- odds are good that it's clogged. If the odour persists following an air filter change, get help from your HVAC contractor promptly.
Closed Off Vents
Most heating vents in homes today include small louvers that you can use to better control the flow of air. Whilst it's generally not advised to do so, some people completely close off the vents in low-use or unused areas of their home. This soon causes the heated air to get stuck within the duct system -- and this can caused a burnt or stale odour. If you have closed off vents in your home, simply open them at least partially to allow for proper air flow again. The odour should dissipate shortly if this is the cause of the problem.
Still having trouble with an odour when the heater is on after trying the solutions above? Contact your local HVAC professionals for a remedy straight away.