Why Does My Pellet Stove Smell Like Burning Plastic?


burning plastic

The hole in the wall is filled, the vents are placed, and the pellets have been poured into the stove. All that is left to do is light the stove. However, after a few minutes of it perfectly burning, a smell that you could never have expected starts to arise throughout your home. The smell of burning, melting plastic coming from your pellet stove is enough to cause heart attacks in even the most resolute of people. 

A burning plastic smell from your pellet stove is entirely normal for the first few times. The plastic inside and outside the stove gives off fumes that can give the same smell like burning plastic. Usually, this smell will stop over time but can increase slightly if there is still any packaging material on the pellet stove. 

There are many things about pellet stoves that first-time owners will question, with a majority of the issues being quite common and easy to solve. Further, most people around the world that own pellet stoves quickly learn what sounds and smells to ignore when they are using their stoves. However, knowing when to start worrying about smells and sounds is vital to being a pellet stove owner. 

What can cause the smell?

Three things can cause the smell of burning plastic from your pellet stove, and each of them can cause the smell to happen at different times. Most people tend to stress when they first start smelling the plastic from a pellet stove. Fortunately, it is rarely anything to stress about. Before dismissing the smell entirely, it is vital to know why the smell exists in the first place. 

Knowing why the plastic smell is there will help you relax about the smell in total and know when to open a window to allow some fresh air into a room. Most people test run a pellet stove when they are first installed specifically to ensure that the smells are no longer there when they want to use the pellet stove permanently. 

Leftover wrapping

The most likely cause of a sharp smell of plastic can be a few leftover pieces of wrapping that are strewn about or still stuck to the stove. Pellet stoves have glass panels and a few other delicate parts that are wrapped in plastic when still boxed, and if they are not removed before the stove is first lit, the smell of plastic will be sharp. Several people around the world have gone into a panic because of this smell because it is an extremely sharp smell that easily spreads throughout a house.

This type of plastic can cause some noxious fumes to be released into a building, and even in the largest open spaces, it should be remembered that these fumes can cause damage. You must do air out a room when some of this plastic does start melting, allowing fresh air to enter a room. Doing this well before the winter season starts or on a warmer day will prevent you from freezing while all the remaining plastic is melted away.

The paint

The pain of a pellet stove is like any other paint and needs some adjustment to the heat within the stove. This paint won’t be damaged by the heat produced by the stove. However, the paint does need to be cured the first few times that the pellet stove reaches its top operating temperature. If all the plastic has been removed, this is most likely the cause of any strong smells of plastic that can come from your pellet stove. 

Usually, the manufacturer of the stove will include a booklet that will tell you how long the smell will last, with the average pellet stove no longer emitting the smell after a week of constant operation. The good side of this is that the smell does not carry with it any noxious fumes that could be damaging, as long as the area where the pellet stove is in is large enough. Within a few hours, the smell will disappear, and you can continue using the pellet stove as normal from there. 

Insulation material

An often-overlooked cause of the smell is the insulated materials used around the vents of a stove or even the tape used to seal everything in safely. The pellet stove can reach a point hot enough where the foam or other insulation materials you are using will start to melt before becoming solid. A lot of owners fear that the wall will be set alight. However, the good news is that this is not possible.

This smell will not be entirely like plastic, as other materials are also melting away, while most people soon realize that it is not something to worry about. One of the important things to remember about insulation melting like this is that the insulation will only melt up to a certain point. Most insulation is created to specifically melt instead of catch alight, which is why you should not fear, as long as you have checked that everything is up to code. 

Should you be worried about the smell of burning plastic?

No, you should not be afraid of the smell of burning plastic, as this is entirely normal for a first-time burn of your pellet stove. If the stove is several years old, a simple check to see if there may have been some waste plastic in your pellet stove hopper or simply a piece of plastic that has been leaned against the stove. There are several occasions where someone has placed a plastic container on top of a pellet stove and simply forgot about it. 

While this is not optimal, and whatever has been placed on top of the pellet stove will certainly melt, the stove does not easily produce the type of heat that can set plastic alight. Usually, only an open flame can set most plastics alight, with very few instances of plastic easily going alight without a direct flame. This is because of the safety regulations that have come into place regarding most if not all plastic.

 You can easily find that plastic can be melted at even low temperatures, with some people able to melt large pieces of plastic with nothing but sunlight. It is vital that you remember that pellet stove have open flames, but only on the inside, and that the ash produced by pellet stoves is not hot enough to cause a fire. This is one of the reasons that pellet stoves are safe enough to leave burning for several weeks on end.

How long will it take for the smell to stop?

The smell of burning plastic should dissipate within a few days of the pellet stove being lit, with even the smell of the paint going away if the pellet stove is allowed to be burning for days on end. This is because everything that can cause the smell is usually burnt or melted away from the pellet stove. Many pellet stove owners enjoy the first burn of their pellet stove, which should preferably happen when it is not too cold outside.

Despite the smell not being dangerous, it is still important to allow the smell to escape from the home or area that the stove is in. This smell can linger if no fresh air is introduced, with most people not preferring to have their homes smell like plastic for hours on end. Installing a pellet stove at the right time will prevent this problem from happening.

A pellet stove should be installed during summer or spring when you can leave most doors and windows open to allow for all the smell of plastic to escape. Generally, you should be installing most major parts of your home during spring or summer when it is less important to keep all the hot air in the house. 

Conclusion

Your pellet stove should smell like plastic a little bit when you first light it, while the smell should go away over time. A good rule of thumb to allow the plastic smell out of the home is to have the pellet stove burning a few weeks before you will need it. Most people burn their pellet stove in for a few days longer before they need to use the pellet stove for the winter seasons.

Just be sure that the plastic you are smelling is not the bag of crisps you forgot on the first flat surface! 

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