Got a Metallic Smell In Your House? (Here's Why & What to Do)

Jessica Vaillancourt
by Jessica Vaillancourt

It can be alarming when you notice an abnormal smell in your house whether it smells like rubber, sulfur, or metal. Strange odors in your home aren’t always a dangerous sign, but it is important to get to the source when you smell metal in the house. So, why does your house smell like metal?

You may notice a metal smell in the house if the blower motor seizes up and overheats or the furnace wires are damaged. High mineral content in your pipes or well water can cause a metallic smell to spread throughout your house. Clusters of rust in pipes or your kitchen sink smell like metal and you can often notice it from far away.

A metal odor isn’t generally a dangerous sign, but you should call an HVAC professional if it comes from your furnace. You can generally eliminate a metal odor if you remove clumps of rust or install a water softener. Follow along as we explore the most common reasons why your house smells like metal.

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Why Does My House Smell Like Metal?

A house can smell like metal for several reasons, such as a seized-up blower motor or electrical problems with your furnace. It can be scary when you notice a metallic smell in your home, but it isn’t typically a sign of a serious or dangerous issue. However, it is important to be sure, so let’s take a look a the main reasons that there may be a metallic smell in your house.

What Causes Metallic Smell in House?

1. Seized-Up Blower Motor

Blower motors are a critical part of any HVAC system, and you’ll notice right away when something is wrong. An HVAC blower’s motor can overheat and seize up to create a metallic smell in the air. The components in a furnace blower and its motor are made of metal, and high temperatures can make them smell strong.

Furnace blower motors last for an average of 15 years, but you may notice performance problems before then. The motor or the blower itself can wear down over the years, and that can cause the parts to rub on each other or work harder. Metallic smells can emanate throughout your house due to the friction, extra voltage, and high temperature.

Luckily, you have nothing to worry about in this instance, but you should still replace or fix the blower motor. They can last as long as 20 years, but you should pay close attention to your furnace blower if it is over 10 years old. It costs an average of $450 to replace a furnace blower motor, and you won’t be able to smell metal in the air anymore.

2. Wiring Problem

The wiring within a furnace is critical to its performance, and you will notice several changes if there is a problem with it. One of the earliest clues of furnace wiring problems is a metallic smell in the house. However, sometimes wiring problems within a furnace can create a burnt rubber odor that is equally confusing.

Wires can easily become damaged, especially if they are unshielded or in close contact with a surface. It is easy to accidentally damage wires and they can become loose or frayed from physical trauma or poor installation. You can also tell that a wiring problem is to blame if you notice a metallic smell in your house after a short or power outage.

Power outages and shorts are often due to larger electrical issues, and wiring problems can trigger both. Furnace wiring damage can also be caused by an electrical short, and the metallic or rubber smell is a symptom. Contact an HVAC professional or electrician if your house smells like metal and your furnace has a wiring problem.

3. Mineral Water

Hard water, or water with high mineral content, can carry a metallic smell that can spread throughout your house. The combination of minerals and high acidity in your water can create a strong metallic odor. Zinc, iron, manganese, copper, and lead can taint the water and make it unsafe to consume.

The best way to reduce the mineral content in your water and metallic odor in your house is with a water softener. Water softeners can filter the minerals out of your water and make it smell and taste less metallic.

Well water can also contain a high concentration of iron that smells strong and can spread throughout a home. Minerals such as iron and calcium can contaminate a well and affect the odor, taste, clarity, and safety of the water. Test your well water if your house smells like metal and it tastes or looks abnormal.

4. Rusty Pipes

It is easy to mistake rusty pipes for mineral water at first because both can create a metallic odor. You can generally find rusty pipes in old homes with outdated plumbing, and the smell is unmistakably metallic. Metal deposits can form in rusty pipes and cause the water to taste and smell like metal, and you can notice it throughout the house.

Old homes built in the early 1900s were generally made with copper and lead pipes. Lead pipes were banned over 30 years ago, but they are still in plenty of old homes. The main danger to old pipes is that they shed material into the water which makes it dangerous to consume.

This is especially true for lead pipes which can be deadly, but any pipe can shed rust over time. A pipe can rust in as little as 2 years in some cases, so it’s important to remove rust sediment whenever you can.

5. Kitchen Sink

Kitchen sinks can often smell like metal, especially if they are made out of stainless steel. You may not notice a metallic smell in your house right away, but metal sinks can put off an odor over time. General wear and tear from washing dishes and running water can create a metal odor.

Check for signs of rust if you notice that your kitchen sink smells like metal. Clumps of rust can also stick to the inside of a kitchen sink drain or even in the garbage disposal. However, a metallic odor doesn’t always indicate rust in your sink, and it could simply be the metal material that you smell.

Plenty of water, minerals, and food waste go through sink drains throughout their lifespan. It is normal for a kitchen sink to clog eventually, and it generally creates a distinct odor. You may smell metal near a clogged sink, especially if you have a high mineral count in your water.

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Related Questions

Why does my breath smell like metal?

Breath usually smells metallic because of oral hygiene and health issue. The gum diseases periodontitis and gingivitis can give your breath a metallic smell. An infected tooth could also be the cause. Most common causes of metallic smelling breath will clear up on their own. Ensure your oral hygiene habits are maintained to prevent this problem.

What causes metallic smelling urine?

Urine may smell metallic due to a pseudomonas infection. This type of bacteria is often picked up in hospitals or nursing homes. Those with compromised immune systems, including the elderly, are most susceptible to this infection. Urine may also smell like minerals due to a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).

Is metallic smell a symptom of Covid?

While less common, some people infected by the COVID-19 virus have reported a metallic taste in their mouth. The SARS-Cov-19 virus frequently interferes with the sense of smell and taste. Many cases report losing their ability to taste food. Metal mouth may be caused by COVID-19. And while it will clear up once the underlying cause is treated, this metallic taste may remain for a while after recovery from the virus.

Jessica Vaillancourt
Jessica Vaillancourt

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