New Furnace Smells after 1 month


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Old 10-31-12, 06:30 PM
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New Furnace Smells after 1 month

Please help me. I am desperate. We bought a new Carrier Infinity high efficiency furnace about a month ago. We have been running the heat. But there is a smell that comes from the vent and I can't describe it. It's not a gas smell or a rotten egg smell. It doesn't happen all the time. I can't understand it. I've had the company that installed it come back and he didn't really smell anything. Sometimes it is really strong almost like a plastic smell but it's not exactly like burnt plastic. I'm so frustrated because I can't pin point what the problem is and now I am scared to use our furnace. This furnace cost us a bundle and is suppose to keep us warm. Instead I am so stressed about the smell and I don't know what to do.

The installer came back and opened the furnace front to see if anything was there but nothing. What can I do to figure out what is wrong. I'm even having someone come out tomorrow to clean the vents in case it is from the vent.

PLEASE HELP ME DIAGNOSE THIS!!
I am so desperate. It's not the oil from the furnace when it was package because it should have been gone by now.
 
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Old 10-31-12, 08:02 PM
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Do you have an air cleaner or humidifier or air exchanger?

Also, how's the air filter?
 
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Old 10-31-12, 09:34 PM
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Your installer is obviously not competent to repair the furnaces he installs.

At a minimum all parts of the gas supply system should be checked with an electronic detector for gas leaks, and the combustion gasses should be checked for the presence of unburned natural gas and carbon monoxide.

I would be very suspicious that improper gas combustion is producing "aldehydes," which are partial combustion products of natural gas. Aldehydes and carbon monoxide and other chemicals can be produced when natural gas doesn't burn properly and completely.

Aldehydes have peculiar odors and can cause prickly sensations in the eye. I would say the odds are good that this is what you are noticing.

Have someone measure the carbon monoxide level in the combustion gasses from the vent while the burner is operating and report back here what is found.

I'd insist that the installer have a competent repairman out to inspect and adjust the burner as needed to correct the problem. It sounds like the installer doesn't have a clue.

Once the burner is correctly adjusted you should have no further problems.
 
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Old 11-01-12, 12:24 AM
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The filter is a media filter and I do have a humidifier. However the humidifier wasn't in for the first few days but the smell was already there at that time.

SeattlePioneer- Do I ask the installer to measure the carbon monoxide level or is this something that I can do? Thank you for pointing direction for me. The installer had been higher rated in checkbook and we even had the gas company approve it. It's been so frustrating and scary. I do have a carbon monoxide detector at home but it hasn't gone off. Also, can I ask if you would know why the upstairs smells while the downstairs doesn't smell? For some reason the upstairs smell is quite strong and downstairs is very minimal.

Thanks
 
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Old 11-01-12, 02:20 AM
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If the furnace is high efficiency, check all the plastic exhaust pipe connections for leakage. (feel for warm/moist air movement at each joint with the furnace running)

Even if the furnace isn't burning right, the exhaust should be going outside.

-------------------
There could be something left on the internal surfaces of the furnace from the manufacturing process which has yet to burn off.

Run the furnace continuously (turn t-stat all the way up) for a couple of hours with the windows open.
 
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Old 11-01-12, 05:17 AM
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I checked the pipes and there is no leak. It is exhausting to the outside. I remember that when they did a inspection from the gas company they also checked to make sure no gas was emiting out.

Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 
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Old 11-01-12, 07:38 AM
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Have you checked the filter since the install? I have seen many time filters are plugged up with years and years of stuff that was in the ductwork since the newer furnaces has more air movements.

Who knows, there may be something that was in the duct and got moved into the filter area.
 
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Old 11-01-12, 08:29 AM
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The filter is a new media filter. We had the furnace, inner coil and a/c installed. So everything with the furnace is new.
 
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Old 11-01-12, 11:39 AM
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We just had someone come out and clean out the ducts. DH then ran the heat and said that the smell is still there. It is predominately in the upstairs 2 rooms (these 2 rooms have vents back to back to each other). The smell isn't in the other 2 rooms or downstairs or basement.
 
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Old 11-01-12, 12:42 PM
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You need to have the furnace exhaust tested for carbon monoxide levels which are associated with the peculiar odor of aldehydes.

This needs to be done by a competent person using good quality test equipment. Often gas utilities will inspect for carbon monoxide and gas odors at no charge.
 
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Old 11-02-12, 05:33 AM
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Okay. I think I have narrowed down the smell. It is a fake sweet smell. It is only when the heat is running really hot.

I will have someone come out and check the carbon monoxide in the house and look for any gas leaks.
 
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Old 11-02-12, 07:55 AM
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have them check the temp rise, and see if it falls into the guide line of the furnace. Maybe the blower is set to low or furnace is oversized for the ductwork.
 
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Old 12-04-12, 08:58 PM
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I think I am going through the same thing.....on a second Carrier Infinity 96 furnace that has been in for two weeks. To me, it is a smell like plastic or something heating up and giving off fumes, but not necessarily burning or melting. The smell starts after the furnace is running for a few minutes. As I said above, this is a replacement for a new furnace that was giving off the same smell.

With the first one, the gas company and the contractor checked for CO, gas leaks, and proper combustion (I think it was like 7 on low heat and 12 on high). I also have a low level CO detector that should display at 5 ppm. The decision to change out the furnace was not made by any real investigation. The tech smelled the smell, called the Carrier rep and he Carrier rep said let's try a new unit.

I tried to hard burn the furnace clean on high heat for a couple of extended periods. The smell got really strong during those, but I don't think ever improved.

I will say that the static pressure reading on the T-stat is high (over .5 on low heat and a little less than .8 on high heat). The furnace is in a crappy tight spot and would be pretty difficult, but not impossible to increase the trunk line sizes. The installer's idea to reduce static pressure was to cut a return into the trunk line a few feet from the orphaned water heater. I am not an HVAC expert, but this didn't smell right to me so I nixed that idea. Keep in mind, this is a large, highly rated company with certified installers. Shrug.

Tech is coming back tomorrow. Out of curiosity, I opened the front cover today and found a small pool of yellowish water under the condensation line inside the furnace. It appears to be dripping from the rubber line at one of the connections. That seems pretty minor, but with everything else...
 
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Old 01-12-13, 01:18 PM
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I am having the same problem, also with a Carrier Infinity 96 system. Just to be on the safe side, I contacted my gas & electric company, and they came out to check. No gas leaks. Other than that, they don't check for aldehydes or that sort of thing. My installer has been less than helpful, so I'm looking for another contractor to come out and investigate. But I am experiencing the exact symptoms that SeattlePioneer describes: Smell, burning eye sensation, and it gives my wife a headache. I'm annoyed because it's been cold here, and we can't use our furnace. We've run it for hours several times when we either weren't home or were working outside or in the garage, but the smell persists. The gas & electric company guy said his furnace took almost 2 years to get rid of the smell. WTH??? I refuse to believe it will take that long. Will keep you posted, or if anyone has other suggestions, they are welcome!!
 
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Old 01-24-13, 10:35 PM
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Unexpected Solution

Like the member who initiated this thread as well as Bryce Newall, I too have had exactly the same "burning plastic" smell with my new high-efficiency furnace.
Having gone through the same exercises attempting to fix the problem all with no luck I decided that I had nothing to lose by taking matters into my own hands.
At the furnace I started by removing the upper and lower front covers, using my nose to tell me where the smell was the strongest. Interestingly enough there was no hint of the smell in the blower area (bottom of the furnace) and the heat exchanger (top of the furnace) area, I soon discovered that the odor was the strongest where the heated air enters the duct work.

There was a removable cover (8 screws) that allowed access to the top of the furnace where the air conditioning unit is located, much to my surprise there was a large zip lock bag laying on the air conditioning coils unit that contained the installation instructions for installing said unit. The heated air from the furnace was passing over and around the bag, the bag looked as though someone had used a hair dryer on it.

I put the furnace covers back on and ran the furnace, fifteen to twenty minutes later there was only a trace of the plastic smell entering the house through the duct work, an hour later it was gone.
 
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Old 01-25-13, 02:19 PM
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Installers----

Gotta love 'em.
 
 

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