Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell?

May 11, 2021
AC Maintenance in Orchard Park, New York

Air conditioning units are among the most purchased appliances during the summer season. However, your AC unit cannot work optimally if you don’t take good care of it. Maintaining your system is essential both before and during the summer. If you don’t get your unit serviced regularly, the most common problem you’ll face is that your AC will begin smelling bad. Here are some of the reasons your AC unit has a foul smell and how to resolve the issue.

Growth of Mold and Bacteria

If your AC smells like dirty socks, it’s most probable that there is an accumulation of bacteria and mold in the AC ducts. Air conditioning units convert hot air into cold air. This process results in the condensation and development of small droplets of water inside the unit. If these droplets don’t drain out of the AC unit, bacteria and fungus can grow in the AC ducts. That will lead to a smell similar to old or dirty socks. Having your AC cleaned and serviced is the best remedy for this issue.

Burning Electrical Components

When your AC smells as if something is on fire, you have a reason to worry. Since your AC unit has many electrical parts, some of the components might be burning.

It’s advisable to switch off the AC and call a professional technician to inspect the unit. Don’t try resolving the problem on your own; it can be dangerous. The burning smell may also be present if you switch on your AC after a long period of inactivity. That’s the smell of dust incinerating.

The burning smell may also indicate the unit’s fan motor is overheating. That might be due to a faulty capacitor, worn-out bearings or other related electrical issues.

Dead Insects or Animals

During the cold season of the year, most animals, including rats and mice, look for a warm place to shelter and survive the harsh conditions. Unfortunately, some of these creatures die and start disintegrating before spring or summer.

If your AC unit has an odor of decay at the start of summer, it might have a dead animal inside. Contact a reliable duct cleaning service to address the problem.

Gas Leak

Although natural gas doesn’t smell, manufacturers add an odor to make it possible to detect a gas leak. If your house has a smell of rotten eggs, this issue requires immediate action.

It’s a clear sign of a natural gas leak coming out of your water heater, stove or furnace, and it’s circulating through your AC unit. Because natural gas is explosive, turn off your main supply immediately and call your gas company for immediate help. Exit the house instantly and leave the windows and doors open to allow the leaked gas to go outside.

Blocked Condensate Line

The condensate line is a little PVC pipe that drains water from the drip pan to your storm drain or landscaping. It’s a part of your AC that lies outside your home. Sometimes, sludge, mold and mildew might develop in the condensate line, leading to clogs and musty odors in your home. Cleaning this line regularly with vinegar and rinsing with water can help prevent this problem. Turn off your AC unit first.

Smoke Infiltration

Most individuals underestimate the dangers of smoking in the living space. When you smoke in your home, your furniture, drywall and carpet absorb the cigarette smell. Some of the excess odor may also get access to the evaporator coil of your AC unit, pushing the cigarette smell into your living space.

You can get rid of this odor by replacing your furniture, drywall, carpets and rugs. Alternatively, you can contact a registered technician to clean parts of your AC unit, including the evaporator coil.

The evaporator coil is part of the central AC which helps to remove heat from the air. The buildup of grime and dust on the evaporator coils can also lead to a foul smell.

Professional Assistance

AC odors indicate that the unit needs inspection and servicing. You can avoid most of the problems highlighted above by scheduling regular maintenance for your AC system. However, more severe odors like gas, burning or sulfur indicate a much bigger problem, and you should contact a professional technician from Vastola Heating & Cooling immediately. We install, maintain and repair heating and cooling systems. Apart from that, our experts also offer air quality services. In addition, we deal with thermostats, generators and ductwork. If you reside in Orchard Park or anywhere in Erie County, contact us today to learn more or schedule service.