A something is "hot" smell - in my house - can't figure it out.

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by Z71bill, Oct 25, 2020.

  1. Z71bill

    Z71bill

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    I don't think my system has an emergency electric heating coil - Houston doesn't get that cold. Some winters we only turn on the furnace 5 or 6 times.

    In my breaker box I have one 20 amp breaker that feeds the air handler - furnace - fan - wouldn't an electric heater coil need its own circuit?

    But if I am mistaken - maybe turning on the heat and letting it burn off that dust or whatever it is that causes the smell the first time you turn on the heat every year - would burn it off - and that would solve the issue?
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2020
  2. Z71bill

    Z71bill

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    This has happened - 4 or 5 times over the last 5 months - the first couple times it was like - do I smell something burning? Sniff sniff - walks out of bedroom - into hall sniff sniff - walks back in bedroom - no more smell. Must be nothing - go on with life.

    But then it happened again and again - so I started trying to figure it out. I started this thread because I have already look at everything I can come up with.



    The smell is very slight and fleeting - and once I notice it - it is gone within 15 seconds - then it may not be noticed again for a few weeks or a month.

    I suspected the master bath light fixture - so I took it down and check the connection - then I read LED bulbs may cause an issue - so I replaced all 4 LED bulbs with new ones.

    It has now been over a week since I noticed the smell - and it is really hard to find the source hen nothing seems to be malfunctioning.
     

  3. Z71bill

    Z71bill

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    I have multiple dimmer switches but none in the master bedroom -
     
  4. Z71bill

    Z71bill

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    Well I just had a thought - there is a ceiling fan in the master bedroom - it runs all night every night - it is really old - I will guess over 15 years for sure maybe close to 20 -

    It started being a little out of balance when on the highest speed - and would start to make a clicking noise when the pull chain would hit against the glass light globe thing. Click click click when you are trying to fall asleep - drove me crazy.

    So I turned it down to the middle speed and the noise stopped - that was months ago.

    We tried to find a new one we liked but were having a hard time - we want something higher quality but still a basic design - we eventually lost interest -

    Needs replacing anyway - so that is at least something I can do.
     
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  5. Anicius Julianus

    Anicius Julianus

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    I would unplug all items which require the use of electricity from their respective outlets,
    remove the outlet covers,
    unscrew the outlet-to-box screws,
    pull the outlet from the box,
    examine it, the wires, the box for any sign of burning
     
  6. sarge83

    sarge83

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    Is the smell prominent in the room with your breaker box possibly? We got a funky smell in there about 6-7 yrs ago and our dryer started having issues of not drying. I replaced the high thermostat and still not drying and cutting off. It was 15 yrs old so we thought it's time for a new one. We bought a new one and in a couple of weeks same thing. My brother who has training in electrical work pulled the breaker and it was burnt up. He looked the box over, checked the dryer outlet and pigtail, all as should be so he replaced the breaker and nothing for 5 yrs. Then one day the double oven stops working, just dead. It was 30+ yrs old and I thought well crap and started looking for a replacement but remembered the dryer and my brother pulled the oven breaker, same thing, burned. He replaced it and the oven works fine.

    I called an electrician and told him about the dryer and oven breakers that burned up. He came in and checked the box top to bottom, tightened a few of the wires, pulled breakers and checked them all, checked the dryer plug and the pigtail, all tested normal. The house was built in 1985 and he said it was in great shape for it's age. He couldn't find anything wrong with it. The smell it gives if a breaker is burning is a fish type smell that really funky. I hope we are done with the box, but if we get another burnt up breaker I am going to have the box replaced.
     
  7. tarpleyg

    tarpleyg

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    Do you have a heat pump system and has the smell only occurred as it’s started to get colder? Sorry, but I didn’t notice what region you’re in. Heat pumps have a recovery mode that utilizes a conventional heater coil in the furnace to heat air while allowing the heat pump to come up to functioning temp. That heater coil gets dirty and when it fires up it burns off all that crap and stinks. Just a thought.
     
  8. Darkangel1846

    Darkangel1846

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    when was the last time you had your duct system cleaned?
     
  9. byf43

    byf43 NRA Patron Life Member

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    First things first. I am NOT an electrician, and have never portrayed one on television, or in the movies.

    I've read all of the posts, and if I missed (or repeat) something that has been said, I apologize.

    Go to each and every switch, outlet, light fixture (ceiling, etc.) and place your hand directly on each, the next time you smell the odor.
    Nothing should be warm to the touch, unless you're drawing (or trying to draw) more current than what the wire/circuit is rated for. Loose screws/connections can/will cause heating of the connection/wire/circuit.
    Note: Too much current draw for the circuit SHOULD trip the breaker or 'blow' the fuse once it's reached it's tolerance of more than the circuit should draw.

    Check ceiling fans for operation. I have installed nothing but Hunter ceiling fans in our house, and my kids' house(s).

    The ceiling fan in our MBR was on a speed control, on the wall.
    At about 20 years of age, the fan only ran on SLOW speed, even though it was set for HIGH (as per instructions) and the wall control was on HIGH.
    There are (on this model) two resistors/control modules inside the fan unit.
    One of them went bad, and SMELLED like burnt toast.

    A few years ago, the lights/circuits in our smallest bedroom (now my wife's office) just 'lost power'.
    I checked each outlet for loose/burnt wires and signs of arcing. Found nothing.
    Thought a mouse might have gotten into the attic and chewed wires. Nope. Traced the wires back to the circuit breaker box.

    Found traces of arcing where the circuit breaker 'clamps' onto the bus bar.
    Crouse-Hinds breaker box.
    Pulled the breaker and replaced it.
    Problem rectified.


    Lastly, I don't mean to sound like an alarmist, but, I lost a good friend (and his whole family) in a house fire, when I was a kid. (School bus drove right past his burned-to-the-ground house.)
    I'm not afraid of many things, but, I'm SCARED of fires/house fires.
     
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  10. RenoF250

    RenoF250

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    Yeah, of better yet get an IR camera for your phone. I bought the Seek Thermal.

    The Romex often gets splice in the box and goes on to another box where the actual load is so you could have something like a bathroom outlet with a hair dryer that is pulling power through an outlet in the bedroom. I took one apart once and don't know how it didn't start a fire, it could not have been any closer, wood was charred and everything.
     
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  11. RenoF250

    RenoF250

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    The guys that clean them have cameras. You could have them cleaned and inspected and the same time.
     
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  12. Z71bill

    Z71bill

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    Breaker box is outside
     
  13. Z71bill

    Z71bill

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    I assume they were clean when they installed them 32 years ago -

    Some of the duct work was replaced 10 years ago when we put in a new HVAC system.

    Not saying it would be a bad idea to have them cleaned - but if the smell was coming from that it seems like I would always be able to smell it.
     
  14. nerr

    nerr

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    Though a much more acrid, 'fishy' smell, I had this in an outlet. Old house and there were 3 wires jammed on to one outlet screw hold down. Eventually one of the wires got hot, got thinner, and started arcing.

    Only way I found it was when it eventually failed and downstream outlets tied to it went dead. When I opened the receptacle cover, saw black soot marks and then the eaten-up skinny wire end. So you could open up your outlet cover plates to see if there are any smells, burn marks, funny-colored/deformed wires.

    You might try putting an small UPS battery backup unit in outlets and maybe listen for the power loss beep. If the UPS has a data outlet on it, you can hook it up to a PC and use the UPS's software to monitor : CyberPower units officially support this and have software and connecting USB cord to do it. Otherwise, there's also a free monitor software ( https://sourceforge.net/projects/apcupsd/ ) to log outages that might work with APC UPS's which don't officialy support it, but may still have the 'diagnostic' port that's the same thing.

    Don't give up on the search because this might become serious. Or a mouse family is farting a lot in your walls or one has died there.
     
  15. Z71bill

    Z71bill

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    It is the house burning down that concerns me - wake up in the middle of the night and start to think about it and I can't get back to sleep.

    This is what is pushing me to find a solution.
     
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  16. nerr

    nerr

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    I just remembered something else. You could use an AC voltmeter to check the voltage at each outlet. When the failure I mention hit and before I found the problem, I recall finding some low voltage readings on a downstream outlet I don't use.
     
  17. 4896worker

    4896worker

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    Don’t mean to beat a dead horse .But the next time you smell it call your fire department . They will come out for free and help you look for the cause. They have gone to thousands of smell of something burning calls and can usually find the problem.
    But until then make sure tour smoke detectors work and you have a plan to get out of the house if you have a fire.
     
  18. sarge83

    sarge83

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    Its in the laundry room. The main power line is underground and comes down from the utility poll in the front yard into the ground in conduit and up the wall into the laundry room. The electric meter is positioned outside the laundry room on the outside of the house.

     
  19. selogic

    selogic

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    I noticed on one of those house flipping TV shows that residential wiring in Chicago is in conduit .
     
  20. Dynactus

    Dynactus The wind serenades a purified man.

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    I've always heard that when you smell a slight odor of something burning the devil is very close. Have you heard any strange voices saying, "GET OUT"!!!

    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3xWfw-O4OU