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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Question about Smell Coming from Furnace

    I'm new to the forum, and I thought maybe some of you would be more knowledgeable than I am on this issue and be able to help out. I apologize in advance for the length of my post! (o:

    My wife and I recently bought a new home. The home was built this year and finished in June.. we moved in late September. Absolutely love the place, but having some issues with the furnace and smells.

    I have asthma and pretty severe allergies and my wife has allergies as well.

    Now that the weather has gotten cold we have a neighbor who has been burning every night and it smokes up the neighborhood. The problem for me is that smoke comes into our home (worse some nights than others) and it causes me a lot of asthma problems. I did a lot of research and went out and bought a new furnace filter. Our furnace had a standard 16X25X1 filter in it, and I replaced it with a 3M Filtrete 1900 allergy reduction filter.

    This filter seems to reduce the amount of smoke smell that comes into the home, but in the past few days we have a strange smell coming out of all our registers when the heat is on. It smells like sawdust/new wood and basically like our basement smelled when we first moved here. The dusty smell comes through all the registers when the heat is on and it is making both my wife and I sick. My wife is having sore throats when she is home (feels fine when away from the house). I am constantly having itchy eyes, sneezing, etc.

    Basically, my question is this. When I had been running the heat without any smell why would it all at once start putting out this sawdust/basement smell? I thought it could be the new filter so I took it out and put the old one back in, but that hasn't helped yet at least (it's only been one day). I considered cleaning all the ducts, but it seems strange to have to clean the ducts when the house is less than 6 months old.

    Anyone with any insight as to what could cause this? Anything that can be done to test to see where the problem might be? Thanks in advance for the help!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    So. NH
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    The first thing I would suggest is a call to the installer to check it out, but am wondering how that much smoke from your neighbor is getting in your house.
    Is there a fresh air supply installed?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Pacific Northwest
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    The new filter is likely more restrictive thus raising the temperature of the heat exchanger and possibly the fan motor. The smell could be hot construction debris (dust). Cleaning the heat exchanger and fan motor may help. The furnace was likely used during construction.

    I do not recommend an air filter above a MERV 6 or 8 pleated if the system wasn't initially designed for it.

    As previously stated, check for an outside air intake that may be attached to the return air duct. It may need to be relocated if possible.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Northern Wisconsin
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    The smoke smell is being brought into your home by a fresh air arrangement that is part of your furnace system. In the basement look for a connection to the ductwork that goes to the outside of your home. It should be connected to the return air ductwork and have some kind of hooded intake outside. When the neighbor is burning you could always cover this up, but it does serve a purpose and shouldn't be left covered all the time.

    The basement and construction smells are more than likely because of construction dust that got into the system when the house was being built. Pull a few of your registers and look with a flashlight at the ductwork. I've seen register holes in new construction that you'd swear someone thought were dustpans or central vacuum cleaner inlets.

    With both of you having allergies etc. you might want to contact the HVAC installer and see about having a better air filtration system installed. If you didn't have the house custom built for you and offered choices as to filtration etc. then you've got the most basic setup.

    Good luck and I hope you both feel better soon.
    Use the biggest hammer you like, pounding a square peg into a round hole does not equal a proper fit.

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