Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

It’s the season for ghosts, goblins, witches, and more. There are plenty of things to scare you this Halloween, and a strange odor coming from your HVAC system shouldn’t be one of them. If your home’s heating smells funny, it could be trying to tell you something. We are going to review some of the potential reasons for those peculiar odors, to help you get to the root cause of the issue, so you can get back to pumpkin carving, apple bobbing, and all of the other fun seasonal activities.

Some Odors that You may Smell Coming from Your HVAC

Almost everywhere that you go this season, the smells of apples and pumpkin spice fill the air, if your heating system is overpowering those aromas and smells strange, you likely want to get to the bottom of it and resolve it as soon as possible. To help you unravel the mystery, below we are going to review some common odors your HVAC system may be producing and what your home’s heating smelling funny could mean.

  • Witches' Brew | The Mysterious Smoky Odor: One of the most common smells associated with heating systems is a smoky odor. If there is a smoky smell coming from your heater, if you have just turned on the furnace for the season; that is usually okay. Dust can accumulate on the heating elements, causing a peculiar odor when you fire it up. This strange fragrance is like a witches' brew, signaling the arrival of autumn and reminding you that it's time to clean and/or change your air filters and for other regular HVAC maintenance. If you notice the smoky aroma lingering or if the stench starts all of the sudden, there could be a larger issue. If this is the case, turn off your furnace and contact a local heating repair professional to come out and inspect your system.
  • Cursed Cauldron | Burning Plastic: If your home’s heating smells funny and that’s because it is putting off a scent of burning plastic, it may actually be because there is burning plastic. Don’t let your HVAC work as a cauldron melting your home’s items together. Before you turn on your furnace for the year and each time you go to use it, you should inspect around it to ensure there is nothing in it, touching it, or near to it. A burning plastic odor can be caused by a foreign object being in or near your HVAC system. If you notice this smell and can’t identify what is causing the odor, shut off your furnace and contact a local furnace repair expert as soon as possible to avoid breathing in the harmful fumes and a potential fire.
  • The Haunted House's Misfortune | The Cryptic Odor of Mold and Mildew: While Halloween decorations may give off a musty smell intentionally, an unpleasant, moldy odor from your heating system is far from desirable. It's a sign that something sinister might be lurking within your ductwork. Moisture buildup and condensation can provide the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew, which can have harmful effects on your health. Summon a professional from Bragg Cooling, Heating & Plumbing to investigate the issue and banish the mold monsters from your home.
  • The Cursed Catch | Fishy Aroma: If there is a fishy smell coming from your furnace, it is sure to make you want to unveil the secrets that lie within and transform this mysterious scent back into a more welcomed fragrance of the season. The electrical components of your heating system are typically covered in chemicals and plastic. When these components heat up and/or start burning, they can produce a fishy burning odor. If you notice a burning electrical smell coming from your furnace, you should contact a HVAC professional. While furnaces are usually built to automatically power down when they start to overheat, if the safety feature is broken, this could cause issues, create the fishy smell, and put you and your family at risk of an electrical fire.
  • Vampire in the Ducts |The Smell of a Decaying Animal: If you catch a whiff of something decaying or a pungent, foul odor coming from your heating system, you might have a deceased critter residing within your home’s ductwork. Small pests and rodents seeking shelter can occasionally find their way into ductwork, unable to find their way out. Just like vampire hunters, you need to call in the professionals for duct cleaning to rid your home of this unpleasant smell.

This Halloween season, if your home’s heating smells funny, the unusual aromas might be trying to tell you something. Regardless of the odor, if you smell something strange, you should contact the experts at Bragg Cooling, Heating & Plumbing to solve the mysteries lurking in your heating system and restore peace and comfort to your home. Things like professional duct cleaning, advanced air filtration systems, and an annual heating tune-up, should help you avoid less than desirable smells coming from your heater. If you have a strange odor coming from your furnace, you should always power it down and call in a professional to help.

At Bragg Cooling, Heating & Plumbing we offer fast same-day HVAC service as we know you can’t be without your heat for long. Regardless of whether it is a repair or replacement, you can depend on Bragg for expert consultation that meets or exceeds your expectations. We will always give you an honest assessment of your heating situation so you can make an informed decision.

Bragg Cooling, Heating & Plumbing is a full service HVAC company that is licensed to solve all your furnace related problems, including repair, replacement, and maintenance and safety inspection. We’ve been repairing and installing furnaces since 1968. Contact us today.

November 22, 2022

When it comes to the fall and winter time, there is nothing that quite sets the mood like cuddling up in front of a fireplace and listening to the crackling wood. In the North Bay Area, using a fireplace comes with several restrictions, that may be overwhelming enough; however, nothing seems to replace the ambiance these wood burning devices tend to set, so when you can use yours, you likely take every opportunity to do so. The question is; should you use your fireplace with your home’s heat source?

Should You Use Your Fireplace with Your Home’s Heat?

As if the guidelines involving wood burning devices that we have to follow in Marin, Sonoma, and Napa counties aren’t enough, you should also think about if burning your fireplace is saving you money or costing you. When considering if you should use your fireplace with your home’s heat, the answer is about as simple as the laws we have to follow to use them.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, wood and gas fireplaces are the most inefficient heat sources for the home. The U.S. Department of Energy says that the primary reason for the energy loss is the fireplace’s damper; either it being left open or not properly sealed. They estimate that this circumstance alone can result in your energy usage increasing by up to 30%, or around $200 a year. It is estimated that between 80% to 90% of heat produced by a wood burning fireplace goes up in smoke, literally, and you and your home don’t feel the effects of it.

With all that being said, when it comes down to if you should use your fireplace in conjunction with your home’s heat, it depends on your home and your heat source and its effectiveness. Your ductwork, thermostat, and type of furnace can all play a major role. It is widely believed that a furnace is the better choice for heat, as it’s more efficient and can distribute the heat evenly throughout the home.

Reasons you Should Keep Your Furnace on While Enjoying a Fire

As we have reviewed above, your home’s heater is the best option when it comes to heating your home; however, if you are going to enjoy sitting in front of your home’s fireplace, you really shouldn’t turn off your home’s central HVAC. Why?

It will cause energy to be lost and wasted. If you shut off your HVAC unit to utilize your fireplace, your heater will eventually need to be turned back on. When you go to turn your heater back on, many of the rooms in your home have probably cooled down quite a bit, meaning your furnace will have to work harder and longer to warm them back up. That can use a lot of energy and put a strain on your HVAC system.

A fireplace cannot thoroughly heat your home. As we reviewed above, your fireplace should not be used a main source of heat for your home. Using a fireplace to heat a home is less efficient than using a furnace. Furnaces have less heat loss than fireplaces and can circulate air better. A fireplace heats the immediate area or a home but lacks ductwork to distribute the heat throughout the entire house.

You cannot leave a fire unattended. A fireplace can be a good source of heat for the short term, usually in a small space, but it’s not a good idea to shut off the heater and leave the fire burning overnight, unattended. Also, as we know per our California guidelines, the air that is produced from a fireplace can have some safety risks.

Should you use your fireplace with your home’s heat? Like we said, there is not an easy answer. To put this simply you should not use a fireplace to replace your home’s heating source; however, if using one, you should still keep your HVAC on.

If you have a problem with your home’s heat, Bragg Cooling, Heating & Plumbing can help. We are very good at troubleshooting furnaces and getting you back into heat in no time. We service and repair all makes and models. The right tools and expertise make all the difference. We are your North Bay Area heating experts.

Regardless of whether it is a repair or replacement, you can depend on Bragg for expert consultation that meets or exceeds your expectations. We will always give you an honest assessment of your heating situation so you can make an informed decision. Contact us today.


September 20, 2022

As the weather starts to become cooler in the North Bay Area, many homeowners turn to space heaters, as an alternative to turning their furnace on just yet, and as a way to heat up their home or specific rooms that stay a bit colder. The autumn mornings and evening can create a chill throughout your home, but you may not fully need your heat for the season, so these types of heaters can be a great alternative. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that space heaters are responsible for 43% of house fires and 81% of home heating fire deaths. That leads us to the question, are you using your space heater safely?

What is a Space Heater?

Whether you are trying to warm up a space that doesn’t have a built in heat source, or just looking for some warm relief, a space heater may be the solution you turn to. These, usually small and portable heaters, provide a way to warm up an individual rooms without turning up the thermostat to the entire house. They can be used almost anywhere in the home that flammable materials are not present.  Space heaters differ from central heating systems, as space heaters are meant for smaller and typically enclosed spaces, while central HVAC systems are intended to heat your entire home.

There are several different types of electric space heaters:

  • Oil or water-filled radiator: Heated oil or water travels through the heater.
  • Fan-forced heater: A fan blows warm air over metal coils.
  • Ceramic heater: Air is warmed over a ceramic heating element.
  • Infrared heaters: Heat is created by infrared bulbs.


Regardless what type you use, it’s important that you are using your space heater safely. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of space heaters, resulting in more than 300 deaths. In addition, an estimated 6,000 people receive hospital emergency room care for burn injuries associated with contacting the hot surfaces of room heaters, mostly in non-fire situations.

Are you Using Your Space Heater Safely?

As you can see, space heaters, while a great solution for providing heat to your Marin, Sonoma, or Napa county home and family, can also pose a safety risk. Are you using your space heater safely? Below we review some safety precautions you should take if using one of these heat producing devices.

Recommended space heater safety tips:

  • Purchase a heater with the seal of a qualified testing laboratory.
  • Before using any space heater, read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully.
  • Keep the heater at least 3 feet away from anything that is flammable, including people (especially children).
  • Choose a heater with a thermostat and overheat protection.
  • Station the heater on a solid, flat surface that is out of the way of foot traffic and does not block an exit.
  • Make sure your heater has an auto shut-off to turn the heater off if it tips over.
  • Plug the heater directly into the wall outlet. Never use an extension cord.
  • Space heaters should be turned off and unplugged when you leave the room or go to bed. They should never be left unattended.
  • Only use a space heater to provide supplemental heat and never use to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothing, or thaw pipes.


Are you using your space heater safely? It doesn’t matter if you are trying to avoid turning on your entire heating system until later in the year, warming a room that is a bit chilly, or trying to heat up a garage, when using one of these heating devices, you need to be sure you are taking the proper safety precautions to protect yourself, your home, and your family.

At Bragg Plumbing & Heating, our specialty is providing comfort to your home. We are North Bay Area furnace and HVAC professionals. Ensuring your peace of mind is our priority. Whether you are planning on replacing an old furnace or you’re looking to have your system tuned up for the season, the Bragg expert installers and technicians will make sure you receive a top-notch service experience and total home comfort.

Contact us today.

We Proudly Service all Makes & Models