Smells coming from your air conditioning unit are never a good sign. If your air conditioner smells musty, smells like rotten eggs, has a burning odor or other troubling scent, there is a problem somewhere within your HVAC system. Air conditioning unit odors aren’t something you should ignore or allow to linger very long, as they diminish indoor air quality, indicate trouble within your AC unit, and could lead to health issues depending on the source of your AC smells.
When your heating air conditioning unit smells bad, Jarboe’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing shares what to look for within your air conditioning system and how to repair the issues causing the air conditioner smell. When air quality of indoor air is poor, and the odor persists in your home, call a professional for air conditioner repair services. Jarboe’s is your trusted local HVAC air conditioning company, with a professional HVAC technician team that is NATE-certified and ready to help!
Mold and mildew growth has a distinctive musty odor that many people are familiar with. If you notice the indoor air smells musty, more so when your air conditioner cycles, mold or mildew probably exists within the AC unit or your air ducts. Organic matter brought into the HVAC equipment by circulating air combined with moisture from the cooling process creates an ideal breeding ground for mold or mildew to grow inside the air conditioning unit.
Mold, as well as mildew, are typically found in the following areas of HVAC systems. When you detect a musty air conditioning odor, check these areas to correct the issue right away, as exposure to mold in the air can cause health issues such as increased allergy and asthma symptoms and other respiratory issues in home occupants.
The evaporator coils within the indoor air conditioner unit are prone to mold growth and mildew. The cooling process causes water vapor in the air to condense, forming moisture on the coils. When moisture combines with organic matter inside the unit from air particle pollution, mold, as well as mildew, have all they need to grow. You’ll need to clean the evaporator coils to eliminate this growth.
The moisture that forms on the evaporator coils during the cooling process will drop into the drip pan below and flow out of the system and home through the condensate drain line. Because of moisture and organic matter, the condensate drain system is another prime location for mold growth within an AC unit. Clogs in the condensate drain line can also cause moisture to back up in the air conditioner, contributing to mold growth on the coils. Clean visible mold along with mildew from the drip pan. Unclog the condensate drain so moisture can freely flow out of your air conditioner.
Vents that deliver air conditioning inside rooms collect moisture due to leaks as well as when condensation forms as cool air combines with warm room air. You may be able to see mold or mildew growth on the vent covers, which needs to be cleaned.
Bathroom exhaust issues can also cause moisture to gather on vents, leading to mold. If your exhaust fans are not properly vented outdoors or you do not have them, have this issue corrected right away to prevent mold or mildew growth in your home and HVAC system.
When mold is found in air ducts, it may have started in the ducts or was tracked into the duct system from elsewhere in the air conditioner unit. Because mold spores easily travel with circulating air, it’s best to have ducts cleaned anytime mold is found in air ducts or the air conditioner system. When mold forms in air ducts, it’s often due to these issues:
When you’re hit with a sour odor like vinegar as your air conditioning runs, it’s a sign there is pooled water and organic debris buildup inside your air conditioning unit. These conditions not only produce vinegar odors but also air conditioner smells that are musty – a clear sign of mold or mildew inside the unit. If you smell vinegar from your air conditioner, check the trouble spots mentioned above for mold.
If an electronic air cleaner or electric fan motor is producing excessive ozone, this may also cause a smell like vinegar from your AC unit. You can lower the electronic air cleaner setting to try and reduce the smell, but if that doesn’t work or you do not have an air cleaner to attribute the odor to, call a professional HVAC technician for repairs.
Air conditioner smells similar to feet, and used gym socks are sometimes referred to as “dirty sock syndrome.” These air conditioner smells are produced by bacterial growth inside the AC unit, caused by collecting organic particles carried in by the air. Again, these conditions also contribute to mold growth, so if the air smells musty, you may also notice that dirty gym sock smell along with it.
A burning odor may result when components in the system overheat, start to fry, or are actively burning. This includes electrical wiring, a fan motor, circuit board, or the outdoor compressor. It is hard to tell if a part inside your AC unit is actively burning or simply overheating, so don’t take any chances with your safety.
When you notice a burning smell from your air conditioner:
An odor that smells like rotten eggs is most often discussed in the HVAC world related to natural gas heating air equipment like furnaces. The natural gas company adds an odorant to natural gas to help consumers identify a gas leak, as natural gas is naturally odorless. When your home smells like rotten eggs and gas appliances are in use, turn off your gas and have heating equipment inspected and repaired before further use.
An air conditioner is a completely electric system that doesn’t run using gas. So when a rotten egg smell comes from air conditioning, it’s usually caused by a dead animal in the ducts. Small animals often seek shelter in the ductwork and sometimes don’t make it out, leaving behind droppings and even carcasses. Eventually, the dead animal decays, which creates a powerful odor that spills out into the home, especially during an air conditioning cycle.
A chemical odor from the air conditioner AC unit is usually the result of chemicals or exhaust fumes making their way into the indoor air. If you notice the smell of chemicals as your AC unit cycles, check these areas:
Air conditioner smells harm indoor air quality, cause health hazards, and indicate problems with HVAC systems. If you are unable to solve your air conditioner smells through the professional advice above, it’s time to call for help. Call Jarboe’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing for air conditioner repair in the Louisville area.