If you smell smoke but don’t find a fire, you may start to worry. After all, smoke can turn into a fire, so you need to get rid of the issue immediately. Even if it’s a faint smell, finding the source of the smoke could save your life.
If the house smells like smoke, but no fire is obvious, call the fire department. Use the non-emergency line, but call. The fire department may find the source of the smoke, and potential sources include burning plastic, metal, or electrical fires. Burning wood could also be the smell’s cause.
Sometimes, the smell of smoke means there’s a fire nearby. But other times, it can be hard to find the cause. Keep reading to learn why your house may smell like smoke and what you can do.
Call the Fire Department
Whenever you smell smoke, fire or not, you should call your local fire department. You can call the non-emergency line, but it’s still important for the fire department to investigate the situation.
It depends on where you live, but the fire department may treat everything like an emergency. They may show up to your house with their full gear on and a variety of equipment. However, you never know if there might be a small fire.
Even if you don’t see a fire, the smoke could be an early sign of one. The fire department needs to prepare for the worst, and so do you.
So treat any sign of smoke as dangerous, and contact your fire department. That way, you can get the help you need.
Call an Electrician
If the fire department discovers a problem with your electrical wiring, you should call an electrician. The fire department should be able to resolve the issue temporarily. But if there’s a problem in one area of your home, it may not be an isolated incident.
An electrician can go through your entire home and ensure all of your connections are safe. They can recommend changes you can make to reduce the chance of electrical fires in the future.
You should book an appointment each year to ensure everything continues to be safe. Then, you can avoid future issues with your electrical system, fire-related or not.
What Causes Smoke Smell Besides Fire
As you wait for the fire department or an electrician, you may wonder what’s causing the smoke smell. The source can be hard to detect, but there are a few common things that cause your house to smell like smoke but not have an obvious fire.
If you smell smoke when using a particular appliance, that may be the culprit. Something could be wrong with the electrical wiring. You may need to fix or replace the appliance to use it safely.
Electrical smoke can be very dangerous, so you should stop using the appliance in question until you fix the issue. If the wiring is behind a large appliance, it can be hard to find the source yourself.
So whenever you smell smoke, consider what you’re using in your house. If you only smell smoke when using your oven, odds are the smell has to do with that.
You may also find pieces of plastic, wood, or metal are burning. They may not be burning enough to cause a fire, but they will produce a smoke-like smell.
If you left a plastic cup too close to your stove, it might start to burn. Metal may not burn the same way as wood or plastic, but it can release toxic chemicals. You should inspect the area around the smell and don’t leave anything out.
The cause may be something you don’t expect, but you need to be able to catch the source. Then, when you call the fire department, you can direct them to the right spot in your house.
An individual light fixture may also be the cause of smoke in your house. If you use an old light bulb or the light fixture is outdated, it may not be safe. You may notice the smell after you replace a light bulb, or it may take a while.
But if you smell smoke when using that specific light, it’s probably the issue. In that case, you should call an electrician and have them replace the light fixture. If the issue is a lamp, you can throw it out and replace it yourself.
When you do get a new fixture, make sure it meets safety standards from the National Electric Safety Code (NESC). Then, you can use your choice of light bulbs, and you won’t have to worry about the smell.
Does Smoke Always Smell Bad?
When you smell smoke in your house, it may not always be alarming. In some cases, the smoke may smell somewhat pleasant and like you’re grilling food. If you smell something like that, make sure your neighbors aren’t grilling out.
Your nose may be deceiving you of the source when it’s not in your house. But if your neighbors aren’t outside, you shouldn’t ignore the smell.
The smoke may smell good if wood is burning, for example. And if it’s burning slowly, you may not be able to see a fire. So no matter what the smoke smells like, you should contact local authorities for assistance.
How to Prevent Smoke Smell
Once you resolve your current smoke smell, you may want to relax. However, you don’t want to get too comfortable. You never know when your house may start to smell like smoke again.
Here are some things you can do to prevent smoke and fires in the future.
Don’t Smoke Inside
If you enjoy smoking cigarettes, try to do so outside. No matter where you smoke, you should be safe while doing so. Make sure kids and pets aren’t around, and ensure you put the fire out before discarding your cigarette butts.
If you decide to smoke indoors, you should double-check your used cigarette butts. Dispose of them in an ashtray, and don’t leave your cigarettes or lighter unattended.
Smoking indoors can destroy your furniture, and it can increase your risk of accidentally causing a small fire. Remember that even if you smoke outside, the smell of cigarettes might still travel inside.
You don’t have to give up smoking, but keep the dangers in mind when deciding where to light up.
Keep Grills Outside
If you like grilling food, avoid countertop grills, or look for small ones. That way, you can avoid overloading your outlets while making food.
And when it comes to using a full-size grill, keep it a few feet away from your house. In case the grill catches on fire, you can reduce the chances of your house also catching on fire. And even without a grill fire, you can keep the smoke from getting inside.
Replace Old Appliances and Lighting
You don’t have to wait until you have the smell of smoke to replace appliances and light fixtures. If you haven’t replaced those things in years, it’s probably time for some new gear.
You don’t need to replace them each year, but you shouldn’t go decades between replacements either. By upgrading to new models, you can enjoy their benefits, safety-related or not.
Related: How Long Do Water Heaters Last?
Keep an Eye on Your Home
If you have to leave your home for a few days, ask a friend or neighbor to check in each day.
If they do notice something wrong, they can call the fire department. That way, the situation doesn’t get worse before you get back.
If your house smells like smoke, but you can’t find a fire, you may not think anything of it. But the smoke could be the sign of a fire in the works. Be sure to call your fire department and explore potential causes to prevent future incidents.