Electrical – Working furnace but smell like electrical fire


My furnace started to smell electrical fire once in awhile (not consistent). I guess it happens when we run the heat for a long time (many continuous days during cold weather). However, the furnace still works while smelling. I also notice sometime it has weird noise, like stalling "beeeeeee" noise. Here is the recording:


I am not sure if it's like that before or now I am starting to realized.

The filter was new and I installed it with exact airflow direction (left-to-right). When I smelled the first time and started to open the cover, the old filter popped out from the metal engage ring thing. It didn't fall off completely or touch any metal part to burn or anything (meaning the smell is not from the old filter).

Also while the burner is firing, I saw a metal stick at the direction of the fire and it's turning red. I am not sure what is the purpose of that stick (temperature sensor?).

I did some research from https://www.angieslist.com/articles/whats-funny-smell-when-heat-turns.htm and blog.snyderac.com/blog/be-cautious-of-these-3-furnace-smells so I came to some initial thoughts:

  1. My capacitor is probably bad and needs replace? Where do I find it?

  2. I might have install the filter in the wrong airflow direction?

  3. Some other electrical or crack inside that I don't see?

Before I call some contractor, I'd like to see if I can easily fix this. Please let me know your advise.

Top left

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Entire furnace open

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Red circle is the burner. Blue circle is the metal piece sticking out.

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Bottom part with new air filter (installed with arrow left to right)

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Just a view into the bottom (fan on right)

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Electrical switch

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The make and model of this furnace is Bryant Plus 80t


I am wondering if the red circle is the capacitor? It's next to the big fan in the bottom

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More photos

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I don't see anything here resembles a capacitor!

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I realized when I turned the temperature to 75F and I smelled electrical burning. If it's 71F and below, it seems to be OK. So for some reason, I guess the furnace overworked itself? Is it possible?


I also noticed small red LED light flashing fast 3 times and slow 3 times. I am sure there is something wrong electrically. The noise seems to come from the blower motor below and not the inducer motor on top.

Best Answer

The filter placement looks incorrect to me. Every furnace I've seen has the filter on the other side of the venting into the fan box, causing the filter to be pulled tight against the opening. With the amount of air my furnace pulls, it would pull the filter away at the top and bottom allowing unfiltered air into the system.

My theory would be that the unfiltered air is allowing dust and lint into the heat exchanger and when it builds up enough it is burning off.

A quick image search should give a better visual of what I'm describing.

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