Smells Your AC Unit Makes and When You Should Be Concerned

Most of the time, your air conditioning unit blows air into your home that you probably don’t even notice. It just flows through your house unobtrusively, keeping you comfortable without being noticeable. Sometimes, though, you turn on your air conditioner and an unpleasant odor fills your home. It might smell like dirty gym socks, it might resemble exhaust fumes or the air in your home might suddenly smell like rotten eggs. Should you be concerned? If foul-smelling air comes out of your HVAC unit, is it dangerous?

• Dirty sock syndrome is no laughing matter. It may sound like a funny thing to call an air conditioning issue, but it is actually a term used in the HVAC industry. What’s more, in some situations it can be dangerous. It happens when a foul, moldy smelling odor comes from your air conditioner, and it’s caused by mold, mildew, and bacteria on the evaporator coil. This is especially common in warm climates, where it’s not unusual for it to be hot enough to run the air conditioner during the day, and cool enough to run the heat at night. Heat mixes with dust and moisture inside the air conditioning unit, causing mold and mildew, which creates that dirty, musty smell. To combat this problem, make sure the drainage pans are empty, replace your air conditioning filter, clean your condenser coils, and clear any blocked drainage lines. If the smell persists, call in a professional. If mold continues to grow inside your HVAC unit, it can cause health risks to you and your family. You can often prevent dirty sock syndrome by using high-quality air conditioning filters and a UV air purifier.

• Sometimes, your air conditioner may smell like exhaust fumes. Why would that happen, when your air conditioner is not powered by gas? The answer is simple: fluids in the engine and in other parts of your air conditioner can leak out and cause an odor that resembles exhaust fumes. The only thing to do in this situation is to call for professional assistance.
• A gun powder smell is also something you might find mysterious. This usually indicates an electrical problem, like a fan motor or circuit board that’s shorted out. Keeping your HVAC unit in good repair can prevent this problem, but if you smell something that smells like gun powder, call an HVAC contractor.

• Like the gun powder smell, a burning smell can mean electrical issues. It could be a mechanical problem with the fan or compressor, it might be a wiring issue, or it may be a failure of an electrical component, but whatever it is, it’s not healthy for you to breathe in burning odors. Sometimes, it may not be serious: if it only happens when you first start it up, it could just be dust burning off of your unit. If the smell persists, though, don’t try to repair it yourself. it’s best left to a professional because fixing a problem with the motor or wiring can lead to injury if you don’t know what you’re doing.

• A skunk smell usually indicates a gas leak in the system. Methyl mercaptan is a gas that smells like a skunk’s spray, and when it gets into your ductwork it can cause this smell to enter your home. If this happens, evacuate your home immediately, and call your air conditioning repair company, because this is a dangerous gas and requires immediate attention.

• Rotten egg smell may mean something has died. Often, birds or rodents get into air ducts in the winter, and if they die and begin to decompose it will lead to a horrible odor in your home. If your home smells like rotten eggs, your ducts need to be professionally cleaned. Another source of rotten egg smell is a natural gas leak. In either case, it’s smart to call in a professional HVAC contractor immediately.

• Mold and mildew have their own distinctive smell. A moldy odor in your home usually means that mildew or fungus have started growing in or near the air conditioning unit. Because mold thrives in moist areas, it makes sense that it would grow in HVAC units that aren’t draining properly. What’s more, dirty filters often five off the scent of mildew. If you smell a moldy smell, change your filter. If the odor persists, call in a professionally trained HVAC technician.

Of course, bad smells are not the only indication that something is amiss with your air conditioning unit. Various sounds can indicate a problem with your HVAC, as can excess water or other liquids leaking from the system. One way to get ahead of these issues is to have annual maintenance performed on your system, but if you find yourself with an air conditioning system that doesn’t smell, sound, or perform the way it should, it’s time to call in an HVAC professional.

If you need to find a professional to check your HVAC, or you’re in the market for air duct cleaning, repair, and replacement services in Tampa, St. Petersburg and the surrounding area, please feel free to call Air Rescue at (813) 375-9982. Since 1946, our family-owned business has been providing superior service at unbeatable prices, offering heat and air conditioning repair services, new HVAC system installations, and more for homes and businesses. The service team at Air Rescue Air Conditioning consists of 75 expertly trained and licensed technicians, who work quickly and efficiently. Our service and pricing guarantee ensures that we always arrive on time, offer you the lowest price in the industry, and leave you 100% satisfied. Schedule your service visit today, and we’re confident that you’ll make us our HVAC company for life.

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