burning plastic smell in house

Did you know that according to the National Fire Protection Association, an average of 346,800 house fires happen each year due to faulty heating equipment and electrical malfunction?

We rely on our senses to experience the world around us, and the smells we experience trigger very particular forms of memory.

One of the most unpleasant sensations you can endure is a burning plastic smell in the house. It’s unpleasant, but it also clings to everything and can be hazardous. The smoke and odor of burning plastic can be harmful, especially if inhaled in large quantities.

Because of this, if you want any chance of getting rid of the smell, the first thing you need to do is figure out where it’s coming from. Then, after you’ve determined what’s causing the smell and taken steps to address it, you can turn your attention to getting rid of the odor.

There may be something wrong if you’ve smelled it in your home. But what is the cause of the burning plastic smell, and what does it indicate for you and your home? Please read this guide to learn what you can do about it and its causes.


The Dangers of Burning Plastic Smell In the House

Burning plastic smells disgusting. Because plastic is mostly oil and emits toxic fumes when burned, this also gives you the feeling of choking up. Plastic smoke fumes are a significant health hazard, even if the fire was contained in a particular room.

It’s fair to presume that the smoke fumes from a fire limited to one appliance which did not spread to any other areas of the house will stay in the immediate vicinity of the affected appliance.

For instance, if there was a fire in an air conditioner and it was extinguished quickly, it’s not unreasonable to believe that the bedroom located upstairs would not possibly be impacted by smoke damage.

This is not entirely true. Even though it seems to dissipate rather quickly, smoke is highly invasive. It will make its way into every nook and cranny around the house and use all means at its disposal.

This can mean finding smoke fumes in:

  • Air conditioning system vents
  • Behind walls
  • Furnishings
  • Inside of light fittings
  • In electrical sockets

Even if you can’t see any smoke, there may be smoke particles in the air and your furnace or heater. And it’s the smoke particles that are hazardous to your health.

It’s a good idea to get your home’s HVAC air ducts cleaned during the seasonal change to remove dirt and grime that could catch alight if there is a possibility of a spark reaching it.


Why Is It Dangerous to Your Health When Plastic Burns?

When plastic particles, crystals, and granules are heated up during a fire, plastic fumes can be produced, releasing:

  • Respiratory sensitizers
  • Irritants to your lungs
  • Poisonous carcinogens into the environment

Immediate effects can irritate the eyes, nose, and lungs. Other potential sites of irritation include the skin. The results may be long-term and irreversible in some instances, mainly when the exposure lasts for an extended period.

Smoke is highly toxic. Carbon and tar are two of the most common byproducts of smoke, but they can also contain impurities and toxins. If these are inhaled over time, they can have serious health consequences.

Staying in a smoke-damaged house can make breathing difficult. Sinuses and lungs can be directly affected.

Furthermore, the residue left in clothes, shoes, and furniture can irritate the skin, which lotions cannot treat. These skin inflammations can be severe at times.

Remember that even a small fire caused by an appliance that is quickly extinguished and encapsulated in one room in your home can still cause damage to the property due to smoke. This can even exist in areas where you cannot see the smoke.

Carbon monoxide that hasn’t been completely burned off can also block oxygen from reaching vital organs like the heart and the brain.


How To Find the Source of the Burning Plastic Smell

If you smell burning plastic in your home, the first thing you need to do is open all of the doors and windows to ventilate the space.

There are a few possible causes for this odor, and none of them are pleasant. The most apparent reason is that you accidentally melted or burned plastic. This most commonly occurs when people place plastic items in or on the stove without thinking of the consequences.

Don’t be concerned if this is the case. You can address the lingering odor after you’ve picked up the pieces and thrown away the plastic remains.

You are now dealing with that awful smell! But, of course, the simplest thing to do is to follow your nose. The smell of burning plastic should be most pungent around the source of the fire.

If you still can’t find the source, check the most likely culprits listed below, then unplug the offending device or appliance, if possible.

Your Home’s Electrical Wiring

Electrical wiring is one of the most likely reasons for the smell of burning in your home. A fire can start if your electrical wires are old or damaged.

Electrical problems are one of the most common causes of house fires, so it’s critical to have your electrical wiring inspected regularly by a certified electrician to avoid problems.

Humming or buzzing sounds, flickering lights, and sparks are common indications of electrical problems. Contact an electrician right away if you see or hear any of these signs.

HVAC System

Your HVAC or furnace could also be the source of a burning plastic odor in your home. This is among the most likely reasons for a burning smell in new homes, particularly when the air conditioner is turned on for the first time of the season. First, shut down your HVAC system if you notice a burning smell coming from it.

When many heating units are switched on for the first time in the season, they sometimes emit a burning plastic odor. This is usually caused by dirt and grime collected on the unit during the offseason. While this is no cause for concern, it’s critical to have your HVAC checked by a professional to ensure no other issues.

If you own a gas furnace, the burning plastic odor could result from a gas leak. Also, issues with the oil burner could cause the burning plastic smell in an oil furnace. If you smell burning plastic coming from your furnace or heating parts, turn off the system and contact a heating technician.

Electrical Appliances

Appliances are another cause of a burning plastic odor in your home. If you leave a small electrical appliance plugged in, such as a blow dryer or curling iron, it can overheat and catch fire. If an appliance emits an unpleasant odor, unplug it and inspect the socket or nearby areas for damage.

If it’s one of your bigger appliances, like your microwave or tumble dryer, you may need to have it inspected by a qualified technician.

Leaving Unattended Cooking

One of the top reasons for house fires is unattended cooking. Unfortunately, this has happened to many of us!

How many of you have inadvertently left a pan on the stove because you quickly need to do something? Then you get side-tracked and forget!

If you leave food in the oven and on the stove unattended, it can catch fire and emit a burning plastic odor. Therefore, it’s critical to stay in the kitchen and always watch your food while cooking.

Because of these types of fires, it’s always a good idea to keep a fire blanket or fire extinguisher close by in your kitchen.


Follow the Smell With Your Nose!

Do not ignore the smell of burning plastic if it’s present in your home; If nothing else, this is the most critical thing you can do in this situation. Taking precautions to locate and eliminate the odor’s origin can help reduce the risk of a fire breaking out.

Whether or not you find the smell’s origin with the tips given above, you’ll likely have to call a professional electrician to check your home’s electrical system. Even though doing so may cost money, the alternative may be riskier and cost more in the long run.

Do you need your HVAC checked out before the on-season begins? Then, please contact us. Our company’s teams dedicate themselves to providing value, quality, and pride in their work!