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Old 12-12-2012, 11:43 PM   #1
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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!



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Old 12-12-2012, 11:55 PM   #2
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Actually having the ducts cleaned after construction is never a bad idea. You wouldn't believe how much drywall dust gets in there. And usually the ducts are not as little as vacuumed out before the registers are installed. However keep posted about if changing back to the cheaper filter changes anything.


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Old 12-13-2012, 10:15 AM   #3
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My guess is that there is an open joint somewhere in the air return path, most likely either where the ductwork connects to the return inlet, or an opening somewhere on the furnace/air handler. The anti-allergen filter has a bit more resistance to airflow than a standard filter; it creates a bit of a negative pressure in the air return, and that causes it to draw in basement or between-the-walls air through an opening. Should be easy to fix with aluminum tape, if you can find where the leak is.
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Old 12-13-2012, 10:51 AM   #4
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How is the smoke getting in?

As far as the furnace goes, and the new small since you changed the filter, Is this a heat pump with electric emergency heat? If so, maybe the electric element is coated with sawdust, and the element comes on and cooks it. Does it smell like burned dust?

You ought to tell your neighbor that his wood stove is not burning clean. I would be looking for him to have a chimney fire down the road. Maybe his wood is not dry.

I had a neighbor that did this, I told him about it to no avail. (He smoked out the neighborhood too) He would stuff his stove full of wood and turn the air way down. One night I heard what sounded like a J-75 Turbojet in Afterburner. It was his chimney, Man what a fire. He was lucky his house did not burn down. After that he did what I said, but it took a load of feces in his pants to get there.
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