Air purifier smells like burning? 7 Reasons & Solutions

You think your air purifier is working fine, but when you turn it on, it gives off a strong, foul odor.

Air purifiers are not cheap, especially if you’re buying one to eliminate the smell in your home. Suppose you’re using an air purifier to keep the air clean and healthy in your home. In that case, it’s essential to understand how air purification works.

Air purifier helps to keep the air fresh and clean. Sometimes, a technical error with the device may not work as intended. Other times there could be something minute like clogging of the filter that could cause it to malfunction. It would help if you inspected your air purifier regularly to ensure it works correctly.

This blog post discusses what to do if your air purifier smells like burning or emits a stale odor. 

What Causes Air Purifier Smells?

You expect form an air purifier to clean the air and get rid of bad smells. Suppose your air purifier is emitting a foul odor or burning smell. In that case, the first thing to do is ensure that your air purifier is working properly. You may want to ask someone who has used the air purifier before. In case it’s working perfectly fine, and it’s just an issue of maintenance. 

It’s a good idea to change the filters regularly and to clean them. If the filters are dirty, it will affect the air purifier’s efficiency. Another common issue that causes air purifier smells is if there is a buildup of dust and dirt on the air purifier or its filter.

Here is a list of common problems that could cause your air purifier to emit an unpleasant smell.

New Appliance Smell

Generally, when we get a new appliance and use it for the first time, a strange odor comes out of it when it is first used. Similarly, an air purifier smells weird the first time it is used. This is because your filters are new, and they are making fresh new air. It would help if you opened the filter box to release this new smell, which is natural. But if you keep your filters too long, this can turn into an offensive odor. 

If you notice a terrible smell coming from your filters, you need to open the filter box and change the filters.

Solution: The “new appliance” odor will eventually go away of its one.

Air Purifier is Off-Gassing

If you have an off-gassing air purifier, you must take the filter apart to see why. If you have a filter that has been off-gassing for an extended period, you may leak your air purifier. This could be a small hole in the side of your air purifier or a damaged part that has fallen off.

An off-gassing filter will release the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) or gasses into the room.

Solution: You need to replace the filter and ensure your air purifier and filter are not damaged. 

Ventilation issues

Do you know how sometimes you get a powerful burning odor that won’t go away no matter what you do? Your air purifier causes that. The problem is that most of them don’t have enough airflow.

Air purifiers use filters to clean the air; they need lots of fresh, filtered air to work properly. When you first turn on an air purifier, the filter needs time to fill with particles. This means that the machine will work hard to remove the bad smells from the air, but it might take a few hours before it starts to produce noticeable results.

Suppose you’re having a difficult time getting rid of a particular smell. In that case, you should try turning off your air purifier and opening a window for 10 minutes or so. Then, you can switch back on the device.

This method works because the windows open up more space in the room, allowing fresh air to flow into the area.

Solution: Place the air purifier near the window or at a place where air ventilation is better. 

Ozone Production

Ozone is an oxidizing agent that can react with other substances and remove them. For example, ozone can remove odors from the air. It can also react with other harmful chemicals to make them harmless. On the other hand, that reaction can also produce a foul odor. The ozone growing process can be a reason your air purifier stinks.

Even if your air purifier has a HEPA filter or activated carbon filters, you may still feel a chlorine smell if you have ozone generation in your air purifier.

Solution: Turn off the ozone-producing capability of your air purifier. 

Bacteria and Mold Growth

The primary purpose of your air purifier is to cleanse your indoor air. The bacteria in your house can cause unpleasant odors, irritate your throat, and even make you sick. In addition, the mold that grows in your home can cause allergy problems and illness. If you have an air purifier, you don’t have to worry about these problems.

Air purifiers remove smells, but if the bacteria and other particles accumulated within the device cause purifier to smell bad.

Solution: Keep your air purifier in a clean place and ensure that you clean it regularly.

Activated Carbon Filter Not working properly

An activated carbon filter removes odors from the air by trapping gases and other chemicals. They are typically made of non-woven fiberglass material. If you don’t replace your activated carbon filter on time, it will collect dust and odor-causing particles. 

Suppose the activated carbon contains too much dust and filter smell from the air. In that case, it will begin to smell like cigarettes and coffee if it is not adequately taken care of. 

Solution: Most activated carbon filters are disposable. It is vital to replace them every six months. It’s easy to clean an activated carbon filter. All you have to do is wash it with water. When the filter gets dirty, you can clean it by rubbing it with a wet sponge or rag.

Malfunctioning UV Light Filter 

If your air purifier smells burning, it could mean that your UV Light filter is not working correctly. It will not clean the air as it should. When your air purifier runs out of filters, it will smell like burning. If this is happening, you need to change your UV light filter.

A faulty UV light filter can cause a burning odor or plastic-type stench. It would be best to be careful when using the air purifier because it will release smoke or odors. 

Solution: Most air purifiers contain two parts. One is a fan, and the other is a UV light filter. Both of these are necessary for the cleaner to work correctly. These two components can fail at the same time, which will cause the fan and filter to stop functioning. Depending upon which part is not working, replace the faulty part to make the most of your device.

Electrical Fault

Air purifiers are electrical devices. Like any other electronic device, your air purifier may have an electric problem or an issue with the wiring that may cause the device to be inoperative or smell like burning.

Solution: If you smell a foul odor from the air purifier, immediately turn it off and unplug it from the wall. Make sure that no one is around it as you start troubleshooting. Open the unit and check the parts for the source of the smell.


Air purifiers help with odor but can also cause air quality issues by not filtering out some odors. If not maintained adequately, you may feel that your air purifier smells like burning. Your purifier may not be filtering out some odors. The result is that the room smells musty or stale.

Hence, to improve the air in your home or office, you should invest in a good air purifier. You should ensure that your maintenance requirements are devised and taken care of timely and adequately. 

If you smell something unpleasant in the air, you should immediately turn the purifier off. If your device is not keeping up with your needs, it may be time to replace the device or the filter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does an air purifier help with smell?

Yes. An air purifier helps with removing dust and odors from the air. It uses a fan to circulate the air, and a HEPA filter to remove the contaminants. In some cases, the air purifier also comes with dehumidifiers and humidifiers to reduce the humidity and increase the oxygen levels.

How to remove the smell of the air purifier?

You should follow the instructions of the manufacturer of the air purifier, and try to clean it regularly to keep it functioning properly. For instance, you can run a vacuum cleaner over it, or you can use a cloth and water to clean it. It is also important to keep it away from smoke, strong odors, and chemicals.

How to get rid of the ozone-like smell from the air purifier?

Ozone smells can be removed by simply replacing the air filter in your air purifier. It’s advised to replace the filter once every 2 weeks to prevent any build-up of odor.

How to take care of an air purifier with scent?

You can remove the odors that may be causing irritation in the air purifier using a damp cloth, or by using air fresheners.

Shahzaib Haider is the go-to website by S. Haider for all things consumer electronics. You can find reviews on new releases and trending gadgets. More importantly, you'll get an insider perspective from someone who knows these devices. S Haider, a banker by profession and a tech enthusiast by evening, has been writing about consumer electronics for over five years now which gives him ample knowledge when it comes down to understanding what users need in their lives today; whether they're looking into buying something new or just want some advice.