Why Does My Space Heater Smell Like It’s Burning? (5 Quick Fixes)

Winters can get pretty harsh in various parts of the country, and a workable heating unit is the only means of rescue in chilled weather conditions.

A centralized heating system is one of the most efficient heating sources, but not all households can afford this system. As a result, most households rely on space heaters to keep the most-used areas of their homes warm and cozy.

Those who are already using a space heater know the risks and dangers involved in its functioning. While the ones who are planning to buy one of these devices for the first time perhaps don’t know the hazards involved.

For your information, space heaters have been the source of the maximum number of household fires reported to the authorities. Thus, you are required to be extra cautious while using this equipment.

Although there are various signs of danger that call for your attention while you use a space heater, but here we will talk about the space heater burning smell, as a danger sign. So, if your heater smells like it’s burning, it is probably a cause for concern. Therefore, you need to be excessively alert when noticing any abnormality with your space heater.

In this article, we will discuss the reasons that could result in a burning smell and the ways to remove this odor. Let’s dive into the details.

Why Does My Space Heater Smell Like It’s Burning?

Why Does My Space Heater Smell Like It’s Burning
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So, you have just switched on the space heater and want to enjoy the warmth in this chilling weather. But, you rather experience a burning smell that had just hit your nostrils.

When your portable space heater smells like burning, it is a sign of potential danger, and there can be several reasons accountable for this burning smell. Let’s study some of the most common reasons resulting in space heating burning smell.

Using Extension Cords

Most people do this blunder of using extension cords to plug space heaters.

Are you also committing this mistake after repeated instructions on safety tips? If you are doing so, remove the extension cords immediately.

Extension cords are one of the most common causes of an unexpected burning smell in your space heater.

Space heaters are powerful electric appliances. As a result, you are supposed to plug them into the wall outlet only.

In addition, it is also advised that the power bearing capacity of the electric circuit should be higher than the amp of the heater for enhanced performance.

Extension cord will not be able to provide the required amount of current to the space heater, which might result in inefficient performance, overheating, malfunctioning of the internal components and a burning smell eventually.

So, whenever you sense a burning smell from your space heater, check if it’s plugged into the wall outlet or not.

Burning Dust

A lot of times, people experience a burning smell coming out of their space heater as they start using it after a long time. Several months in the year, you don’t use your space heaters at all and put them in your storage room. That’s when a lot of dust accumulates in and out of the space heater.

Following this, when you take out the heater after a long break, you clean the outer body, but you never bother about cleaning the inside of the heater. As a result, when you plug it into the electric circuit, the dust inside the heater starts burning, resulting in a flaming odor.

Technically, this burning smell is the dust burning inside the heater. In this case, you don’t need to worry much, as this odor will fade away after several uses.

In addition, you can also prefer placing the space heater near an open window when you are using it for the first time after a long break.

Your Heater is Covered

A regular space heater user already knows about the 3-feet rule we need to follow to make our device work efficiently and simultaneously avoid fire accidents.

According to this rule, we should not keep combustible objects close to the heater, as this may result in a fire accident. Similarly, we shall also not place the heater too close to the wall or any other fixed object, like a piece of furniture, as this will obstruct the breathing space of the heater.

So, if your electric space heater smells like burning, chances are that you have covered the device or some object is covering its breathing space.

In this case, you should focus on the right placement of the heating device and place it in a totally uncluttered corner. Besides, you should also make efforts to remove all flammable objects from the 3-feet diameter area.


Overheating is one of the primary reasons of space heater smell like burning. Whenever you use an electric heating appliance, you ensure switching it off at regular intervals to avoid overheating. Coming to space heaters, overheating of the device can happen because of several reasons that include;

  • Plugging the heater in extension cords
  • Obstructing the airflow of the heater
  • Malfunctioning of the internal components
  • Leaving the space heater on for a prolonged period
  • Not focusing on the maintenance of the device

So, these are some of the most common causes of overheating.

Like any other electronic device, your space heater should also be serviced every few months. Similarly, you should never keep your space heater on for a prolonged time, as this can burn the unit’s internal components.

So, if your space heater smells burning, chances are that the device is overheating. In this scenario, you should immediately switch off the device and call an electrician to get to the root cause.

You’ve Just Got a New Device

This reason might sound a little weird, but a brand-new heater might smell like burning at first. However, this smell fades away quite quickly.

A new heater, when it warms up for the first time, is likely to burn that little dust, glue, or other essentials used during manufacturing. And, when you plug this heater in the switch for the first time, the heating element burns all these foreign elements, resulting in a burning smell. 

This burning smell won’t last long and will go away after the first use. To avoid the odor from polluting the atmosphere indoors, you can prefer plugging your heater outdoors while doing it for the first time, or you can also place it on the window to let the smell fade away instantly.

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How Do You Get The Burnt Smell Out of a Space Heater?

How Do You Get The Burnt Smell Out of a Space Heater
New Africa / Bigstockphoto.com

When a space heater smells like burning, it reveals a sign of some sort of danger. As soon as you sense an abnormal odor, you should immediately begin the search to know the cause.

A burning smell can be dangerous, and overlooking the matter could even lead to fatal consequences. On the other hand, this burning smell gets pretty annoying, too.

Therefore, let’s now look at how to get rid of this burning smell. And once you know the cause of this smell, dealing with it becomes more convenient.

Clean air filters regularly

Accumulation of dust is one of the leading causes of the burning smell in the heater. To avoid this, you should clean air filters regularly.

A long build-up of dust or other atmospheric particles on the air filters can create a foul smell in your room, which calls for cleaning or replacement from time to time. Besides, cleaning air filters every couple of months also enhances the performance of your heating unit.

Remove plastic objects and open doors and windows

When your space heater smells like burning plastic, this hack will help you remove the irritating odor. So, as soon as you sense the smell of burning plastic, you need to get excessively alert.

The smell indicates that either an internal component of the heater is burning or there’s some plastic object kept in the way of the heat. In this case, your first objective should be to remove the plastic kept in the way of the heat and unplug the heater for safety.

Next, to remove the odor, you’ll have to open the doors and the windows to let the foul smell get out of the room.

Cover the space heater when not in use

This hack is to prevent the burning smell in a space heater. When you keep your space heater in the storage room, probably during summer, a lot of dust accumulates on the inside of the heater.

To avoid burning dust, you should cover it properly before storing it for a long time. This can protect you largely from the irritating burning smell.

Switch in on and off several times

If you have just started using a brand new heater and if it smells like it’s burning, it’s probably dust or glue or other harmless particles burning inside the heating unit.

To get rid of this burning smell, you will have to usually turn off and again turn on your heater several times.

The smell will start diminishing after every time you switch it off. In addition, you should also maintain proper ventilation to let the bad air get out of the room’s atmosphere. If the smell doesn’t fade, refer to the user manual or contact the manufacturer for more details.

Ensure proper maintenance

Every electric appliance, including your space heater, requires proper maintenance.

Therefore, you should service your heater at least once a year to eliminate all disabilities and other factors that might lead to a burning smell.

So, make sure to clean your heater with a dry cloth. Never use a damp cloth or any chemical to execute the cleaning process, as this might get risky. You can also call for expert help if your equipment needs a deep cleaning.

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The Bottom Line

Space heaters are one of the most convenient ways to heat a specific area of your home or office.

These equipment are easy to use and incredibly affordable to find a place in almost every household.

However, the risks involved in its use make it dangerous equipment, too. With utmost precaution and alertness, you can conveniently use these heating devices for your comfort, but if you smell a burning fume, you now know what to do.

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