June 13, 2020

On a hot summer day, there’s nothing like having an efficient and properly functioning AC. If your air conditioner smells, however, you’ll have to contend with unpleasant and highly pervasive odors all day. More importantly, certain AC smells may even be signs of potentially dangerous issues. Simply covering them up with room-freshening sprays won’t eliminate them. In fact, it will further diminish the quality of your indoor air. To help you find both the cause and the solution to your problem, here are five common reasons why air conditioners start to smell.

1. Excess Humidity and Mold Issues

Whenever indoor humidity levels are too high, the likelihood of mold spore development increases. When problems like mold and mildew are allowed to spiral out of control, homeowners will get a deep, musty smell every time they turn on their cooling systems. Not only is this odor unpleasant, but it also indicates a drastic and dangerous drop in indoor air quality (IAQ). People with asthma, allergies, and other respiratory conditions will suffer the most whenever the cooling system is in use. Once mold and mildew are discovered in homes with central, ducted HVAC systems, thorough and professional duct cleaning services are recommended.

A modern and properly functioning HVAC system is designed to both regulate temperatures and humidity. However, certain building, environmental, and household factors could make it necessary to install a secondary humidity control appliance. For instance, if you have lots of people living in your home, if you frequently cook indoors, or if you live in a perpetually humid region, installing a whole-house dehumidifier may be essential. This will support your HVAC system’s dehumidification efforts, protect your property from moisture and mold-related damages, and protect resident healthy by improving the entire building’s IAQ. If issues with high humidity persist, you can additionally consider covering any exposed earth in your basement or crawlspaces.

2. Stagnant Water is Creating a “Funky Feet” Smell

If your home smells like old, stinky socks when you turn your air conditioner on, it’s probably time to have your cooling equipment professionally cleaned and maintained. This particular smell often means that the evaporator coils are dirty, the drain pans for condensate are clogged, and a significant amount of stagnant water is festering. It is this collection of water that produces the unseemly odor. Comprehensive AC maintenance service will not only eliminate the problem, but it will also improve the overall efficiency of the entire system.

3. The Reek of Stale Cigarettes

Even many smokers do not enjoy the pervasive smell of stale cigarettes. If your home smells like an ashtray when your air conditioner is on, it may be that smoke odors have built up on the evaporator coil and filter. Cleaning and changing these components respectively could be necessary for eliminating the smell. The best way to avoid this problem is by making building residents and guests smoke outdoors and suitably far away from your AC equipment.

4. Burning Wires

The sweet or sometimes gun powder-like smell of burning wires is always cause for alarm. Burning or burnt odors could indicate that the AC motor is overheating or that another serious mechanical problem is occurring. It is not an issue that you should attempt to investigate or to correct on your own. Instead, use the breaker box to turn your HVAC system off right away.

5. Rotten Eggs and Potential Gas Leaks

The most worrisome odor that any HVAC system can emit is the dreaded rotten egg smell. This is a scent that you want to be especially vigilant about if your home heating system relies on natural gas. While natural gas does not naturally have an odor, it is purposefully given a distinctive rotten egg smell so that gas leaks can be easily detected. This is accomplished through the addition of a chemical called mercaptan.

If you detect this odor in your home, take action right away. Avoid using lighters, matches, or electrical appliances, and put all candles or flames out. Ventilate the home by opening up windows and doors, and have the gas supply shut off at the meter. All people and pets should evacuate the building until the problem has been professionally inspected and resolved.

Call Us to Get Rid of Unpleasant AC Smells

At Heatwave Heating & Cooling in Amherst, NY, we’re committed to helping our clients maintain comfortable and healthy indoor environments. We know just how unpleasant AC odors can be, and we understand that they can often be harmful as well. We offer comprehensive HVAC maintenance services, timely HVAC repairs, and reliable air purification solutions. Call us today to start enjoying fresher, cleaner air right away.

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