Any type of burning smell in your home can be a scary thing.
When you start to smell a burning plastic smell, you have to be very careful about handling it.
There are many reasons behind the burning plastic smell, and you will be able to get to the bottom of the issue faster if you know what they might be.
Here are seven reasons you may smell burning plastic in your home and what you should do about it.
House Smells Like Burning Plastic (7 Possible Reasons)
Here are seven reasons that your home may smell like burning plastic.
1. Electrical Fire
An electrical fire can cause a burning plastic smell.
The burning plastic smell can be an indication that you have an electrical fire.
Electrical fires are dangerous as they can be either in plain view or behind the walls of the home.
If you are using an electric heater, there is also a chance that it is this appliance that could be emitting this burning plastic smell.
An electric heater can sometimes give off a burning smell when it is first turned on, but if the smell continues, it is going to be a problem.
If you can’t eliminate other issues that could be making this burning plastic smell, you will have to call an electrician to have a look.
They have specific tools that they can use to help them find the source of the issue.
In addition, you should go around the house and flip all of the switches that you currently have on.
If the smell starts to go away as soon as you turn the switch, you will very likely know that it is the location of the issue.
Leave this switch off to make sure that the circuit does not have any electricity or heat running through it that would cause a house fire.
2. Wood Burner/Fireplace
Do you have a wood-burning stove or fireplace in your home?
If you do, you may need to consider that this could be the cause of your burning plastic smell.
The fireplace or a wood burner has a chimney that will need to be cleaned from time to time.
If it is not kept clean, the smell will linger, and it can smell like plastic burning.
One of the things that makes the smell from burning wood much worse is if the wood is wet.
The wood that you use for your fireplace or wood burner should be dried out for several years if possible.
If you notice that you can’t get rid of the smell, you are going to need to use a professional chimney sweep to come in and have your chimney cleaned.
After this process is complete, try to be more careful about the type of wood that you are using in your fireplace.
The type of wood and the age of it will definitely affect the way that it smells when you are burning it.
3. Water Heater
Your water heater has to do quite a bit of work to keep the water for your showers, laundry, and dishes hot and ready to use.
With a water heater, you will need to check on it from time to time to ensure it is functioning.
Since a water heater needs a lot of heat to change the temperature of the water, there can sometimes be issues with the parts overheating or deteriorating over time.
The water heater has components that can overheat, and you will probably notice this smell when you are trying to get hot water for your home.
If you notice a burning plastic smell each time you turn the shower on to try and take a hot shower, you will need to call the plumber.
The water heaters are generally located in your basement, attic, or even a utility closet.
These heaters are generally located next to other home systems and appliances, and if you allow this problem to persist, you will end up with more damage to your home.
As you will notice, part of finding out why you have a burning plastic smell is to think about when you smell it and what could have triggered it.
4. Air Conditioning System
An air conditioning system can overheat at times.
When it starts to overheat, you may notice that there is a burning plastic smell.
Those who live in warm climates are going to need their air conditioning to run almost all day and night during certain months of the year.
If this describes your situation, then the burning plastic smell could be from your air conditioning system getting too hot.
The problem with the air conditioning system is that it is built to distribute air through the house.
If the air conditioning system is not the cause of the issue, you need to check around to ensure that it is not a fire that is being spread throughout the house.
Essentially, if there is a fire in or near any of the vents to the home, the smell could be permeating throughout the home.
One of the best things to do is to turn your air conditioning system and the power to your home off.
If the smell develops into something stronger, you should consider leaving the building entirely.
Remember that a light burning plastic smell is probably something that you can control or fix, but if the smell gets stronger or there is smoke involved, you need to leave the home.
The smell of fire is an excellent warning sign that it is time to get yourself out of the situation.
5. Heating System
When you put your heating system on for the first time in the year, you will probably notice a burning plastic-type smell.
The heating system is built to move warm air throughout the house.
It has components that help to heat the air up and then distribute this throughout your home.
The heating system is designed to generate a good amount of heat, and because of this, you will notice that it has the potential to create a strong smell throughout the home.
The heating system is typically not something that is used all throughout the year.
Because of this, it can get really dusty.
The dust will start to come out the first time that the heater is used, and it will extend throughout the house.
The dust tends to smell like burning plastic because it has sat in the vents throughout the course of the year.
If you notice that the smell goes away as soon as the heating system has been on for a few minutes, you don’t need to worry about this issue.
You can simply turn the heating system on and off a few times, and it should do the trick to blow the dust out of the system.
If you want to hire a duct cleaning company, they can come and thoroughly clean the ducts for you.
6. Old Appliances
The burning plastic smell in your home could be coming from older appliances.
This could include any of your appliances like televisions, computers, dishwashers, and more.
One of the first things you should do when you smell this burning plastic smell is consider which of your appliances are on.
If you are making something in the microwave or you have a dryer plugged in, these should be your first points of interest.
The quicker you can identify the burning smell, the better the chance you have of taking care of the issue prior to it getting worse.
The largest number of appliances and electronics are likely going to be in the kitchen.
If you can establish that the smell is not coming from the kitchen, start looking at electronics that are plugged in.
Sometimes an old DVD player or something could have an electrical issue that is causing it to smell a bit like burning plastic.
Most of the time, you can fix this issue by unplugging the appliance or electronic and then purchasing a new one.
Chances are the burning plastic smell means that the appliance or electronic is about to stop working anyway.
Some people choose to replace old appliances before these types of issues starting.
This usually makes it a bit safer in your home and eliminates some of the potential fire hazard situations.
Wiring is not the same from one house to the next.
If you have an older home, the wiring could be outdated and need to be replaced.
Sometimes, if the wiring is old, the home will have a burning plastic smell until the wiring can be replaced.
When you purchase a new home, you also have to take a look at your wiring and make sure that it is not the cause of the issue.
With all of the wiring being new, it may need some inspections done to it and a bit of time running to make sure there are going to be no issues with this overall wiring situation.
Sometimes after owning the house for a month or so, you will need to address some of these issues with the builder.
Wiring is something that takes people some time and effort to set up properly.
If you had an electrician do wiring in your home and it is now smelling of burning plastic, you should have it looked into immediately.
Chances are there is an area where the smell is coming from, and it is caused by faulty wiring.
What Should I Do If I Smell Burning Plastic in My House?
If you smell a burning plastic smell in your home, the first thing you should do is to look for a way to stop it.
Some people will make the mistake of trying to mask the smell, and unfortunately, this is a bad idea.
If you mask the smell, you may not be able to get to the root cause of the issue, and this will become a long-term problem.
If you think that the smell is powerful or you see smoke anywhere in the home, you will need to remove yourself from the house as soon as possible.
For the most part, the burning plastic smell is more of a warning sign, and you should use this to help you investigate.
Since most of the smells are related to electrical issues, an electrician would be your best point of contact for this type of issue.
However, if the smell is severe, you will want to contact the fire department before you contact anyone else.
Is It Dangerous to Smell Burning Plastic?
In some situations, the burning plastic smell could be from actual plastic burning.
If you notice that you placed a plastic container on top of your stove or something similar, you will need to ensure that you stay clear of the smell.
The smell is going to be strong, and it can be toxic to your health.
Burning plastic is known to cause respiratory issues, and it could harm your lungs.
There are also some carcinogens in burning plastic that can be released and cause fatal injury.
If you have any type of respiratory issues or concerns, this is something that you will have to avoid at all costs.
Hopefully, you now feel as though you are better equipped for figuring out the issues with your home.
Smelling burning plastic can be a stressful thing.
Homeowners are often very nervous about their homes when it comes to fires.
A fire could end up destroying a home in a very short period of time.
Making sure that you pay attention to the first sign of a fire is essential.
The quicker you can discover where the issues are, the better you can keep yourself and your home safe.
Don’t try to mask the burning plastic smell because it is important to find the cause and fix the issue.
This is not something you will want to let sit around for a few days or weeks to see what happens.