Burning wire/plastic smell in house

Need some advice here.

Last night, on returning home, the house was filled with a burning plastic smell. However, no fire was in evidence, all electrical appliances were turned off (if applicable), and all were operational. No breakers were tripped. I thought the smell might have been from some lilies that my daughter picked and threw them out. We went to bed.

This morning the smell is still there, and, if anything, is stronger than last night. I am at a loss of where its coming from. Nothing in the crawlspace, all electrical appliances work fine.

But it can’t be good. It smells like shorted out wires. Any advice from the teeming millions? I am going to call an electrician, but in the absence of an obvious electrical issue not sure exactly what they can do.


Check the cords. Appliances, lights, extension… If any are hot, there ya go

Do you have forced air heat? If so, turn up the thermostat until the heater comes on, then check the vents for the smell. If that’s the source, turn off the system immediately. Check your furnace filter, if it’s clogged, have an HVAC tech check the system. It’s even possible for a clogged filter to be sucked all the way back to the unit. That could easily create a burning smell.

In any event, check your smoke detector batteries, and I’d unplug every appliance and device not in immediate use. Check for extension cords under rugs/furniture.

Be safe,


And this is why people need training to be electricians. My guy correctly diagnosed issue over the phone.

Furnace air handler. Told me to check if fan was working. It wasn’t. I thought it seemed cold this morning. Coming to fix it this afternoon.

God bless the people who actually have useful skills in this world.

On edit, that darn cat, are you my electrician? :slight_smile:

So is the smell from an overheated heat exchanger (due to lack of airflow), or from shorted wiring in the blower motor?

Home Inspector. Finding broke stuff is my job. :smiley:

The burner fires up, the fan doesn’t come on, the burner becomes too hot, and the burner is shut off until it becomes cool and the thermostat turns it on again.

And, Good Job, Cat!

He thought it was probably the board. But he just came and looked; turned out to be a fried heat kit.