Why Does My Space Heater Smell?

A well-functioning space heater can be a cozy addition to your home or office during cold days.

However, if you notice a strange smell emanating from your unit, it’s time to investigate.

In this article, we will delve into the possible reasons why your space heater might have an odd smell and how to address them.

What Causes a Space Heater to Smell?

There are various reasons why a space heater might start to smell. These include dust accumulation on the heating element, malfunctioning components, or objects nearby that might be overheating.

Sometimes, the smell is simply due to a new heater being used for the first time, as the unit burns off factory residues.

Why Does My Space Heater Smell Like Burning?

A burning smell coming from your space heater usually points to dust accumulation on the heating element or in the air filters. Over time, dust and other small particles can gather on these parts and start to burn off when the heater is in use.

In some cases, the burning smell could also be a sign of faulty wiring or a failing blower motor inside the heater.

Why Does My Space Heater Smell like Fish?

A fishy smell often signifies an electrical issue. It could be due to faulty wiring, or overheating of components, or it could indicate a serious problem like an electrical fire.

If you notice a fishy smell, it’s important to unplug the heater and have it inspected by a professional.

Why Does My New Space Heater Smell Funny?

New space heaters, especially electric and ceramic heaters, may emit a funny smell the first few times they’re used.

This is typically due to factory residues or the protective coating on the heating elements burning off. It should dissipate after a few uses. However, if the smell persists, it could be a sign of a defect.

Why Does My Space Heater Smell like Chemicals?

A chemical smell can indicate that a foreign or rubber object has come into contact with the heating elements.

It could also be due to the overheating of extension cords or other electrical components within the heater. This is a safety hazard, and the heater should be turned off immediately.

What Space Heater Smells are Dangerous?

Any smell that is strong, persistent, or associated with smoke or visible signs of damage to the heater should be considered dangerous.

This includes burning smells, fishy smells, or chemical smells. If you notice any of these, turn off the heater immediately and unplug it. Consult with a professional before using it again.

How to Prevent Burning Smells from Space Heater

Preventing burning smells from your space heater primarily involves routine maintenance.

This includes cleaning or replacing air filters, dusting the heater regularly, and ensuring it is placed away from flammable objects. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for care and maintenance.

Should You Repair Your Space Heater or Purchase a New One?

Deciding whether to repair or replace a smelly space heater depends on several factors.

If the heater is old, it might be more cost-effective to replace it with a new, more efficient model.

However, if the heater is relatively new and the issue is minor, such as a dirty filter or a simple electrical issue, it might be worth repairing with the help of a licensed electrician.

Never operate any repairs on a space heater if you don’t understand how.


While a slight smell from a new space heater can be normal, persistent or strong odors should not be ignored as they could indicate a potential safety hazard.

Regular maintenance of your space heater can help prevent odors and ensure it operates efficiently and safely. If you’re ever unsure about an odor or the performance of your heater, don’t hesitate to consult with a professional.

About Roy Cohen

Roy Cohen has a burning passion for heating, cooling, and ventilation. He aims to help you save money on expensive repairs and bring you the best HVAC products. He has years of experience behind him in HVAC repair and garage maintenance.

You can find Roy at his LinkedIn or his email: [email protected]

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