I'll try to make this short.
About 1 1/2 wks. ago after having the heat on (forced air) for at least 2-3 wks., I started to smell this terrible sweet smell with a chemical undertone.
At first I thought it would go away, but it didn't.
After about 2-3 days I started to get health symptoms which only increased as time went on. The sweet chemical taste permeated into my throat & nostrils. I couldn't breath at times & my heart was beating a mile a minute when I would smell it a lot. My tongue started to have a sore on it & my throat would hurt me.
I finally narrowed it down that this was only happening just before the furnace would come on & during. I also didn't smell it as much during the day (only faintly), but moreso late at night after 10-11 pm & even worse at 4 am as I'm always up late.
I could never smell it via the vents & I believe it was only coming from one side of the house even though it would move all over the house of course. My bedroom wasn't a problem but eventually it became stifling in there too even though I couldn't smell it in there.
This is not my house, but I'm the one that called in the fire dept. & they called Union Gas. They came during the day & didn't smell anything. I chalked it up to it being during the day & them not having a keen sense of smell. A lot of people don't have a good sense of smell I've learned.
I started to feel like I was suffocating in the house & I wanted to run screaming, but I have no place to go.
I searched online & found a chemical that has that exact smell & I have the symptoms described, but no one has any clue where that chemical would be in relation to the furnace.
The landlady was being a b*tch constantly saying "I can't smell anything." Her & her son-in law came in to do other work & at one point he made fun of me when he walked into the house "OOOOH, what's that smell!" He was being sarcastic of course trying to prove I was just lying or something. He also suggested I move out (I know she wants me out of here b/c she doesn't like it when I tell her something needs to be fixed).
I called the water heater company (Reliance), as they have HVAC guys too. He took a brief look, went around smelled the vents, said there was nothing wrong & suggested I get the ducts cleaned, that maybe some wood chips or dust was burning when the furnace would turn on.
After a week of me being in pain I said I have no choice & I turned off the furnace & the house dropped down to 55 just tonight it's so cold out there. It took about a day & a half & the sweet smell finally disappeared. The air still felt heavy & I still had health symptoms, but they were starting to calm down a bit.
I started searching online for air pollution experts, but I can't afford $1,000 for them to come in & take a sample. I found a guy who sells UV air purifiers that you have to attach to the duct above the furnace & he said it would get rid of the smell for sure. Even though I can't afford it ($500), I purchased it. I am desperate.
I didn't feel comfortable masking the problem b/c it was clear to me that something toxic is being emitted into the air, but I didn't know what else to do.
Then I talked to a guy who said that if the HVAC guy was only here for like 15 minutes, then he never actually cleaned the furnace & that I should tell them to check the firebox. That maybe a piece of plastic fell into a vent & this was causing the toxic smell.
I put the UV air purifier on hold & had Reliance bring back another guy today to check the furnace. I also had a maintenance call booked for tomorrow.
The guy who came today said there's no way a piece of plastic could get in near the coils, b/c there's this big huge duct (or whatever it's called - I have pictures) covering the thing up, so unless there was something in there when the furnace was first put in, nothing could get in there.
He also told me that the maintenance isn't going to do anything, all they do is check to make sure the system is running properly which it is as heat is coming out. There's a small amount of cleaning to the bottom heat exchange or coils, but not much.
He said that in order to get at the bigger coils, they have to cut a hole in that metal duct flute & pull it out & then clean it. That there are 2 areas where the heat comes from. He said that more extensive maintenance would cost like $300-400 which is just too much for me, especially when we aren't sure that's the problem.
He made it seem like this was probably not going to solve the problem & he had no idea what was going on.
I canceled the maintenance call for tomorrow.
In the meantime I talked to my ND (naturopathic doctor) & we thought b/c I've been taking some really strong meds that are cleansing my body, that maybe I was just too sensitive & having an allergic reaction, so he's given me something for allergies.
I have to specify that while I can't stand chemical smells & strong perfume (which is toxic), I've NEVER in all my years encountered this problem & I've lived in many different houses. And I didn't have this problem last year or even 2 wks. ago.
I also went out & bought a Honeywell hepa charcoal air purifier b/c to wait for the other one is 7-9 days away.
Within 3-4 hours of turning the heat back on I could faintly smell the sweet smell. It's not as bad b/c the Honeywell seems to be working & is VERY noisy, but my body did start to react to the furnace. My lips started feeling numb & expanding. My throat is feeling scratchy again. My eyes feel scratchy & sore, My nose is bothering me too.
At this point I don't know what to do.
I really really hope someone has some idea & has heard of this happening before.
Thank you very much for listening.