What Should Your Air Conditioner Smell Like?

image of a homeowner plugging nose due to air conditioner smells

Ideally, your air conditioning system should always smell normal. This means that it really shouldn’t have any distinct or pervasive odors at all. When your air conditioner is turned on and cold air starts rushing into the room, strong, strange, and unpleasant odors shouldn’t flow in as well. If there’s a foul smell coming from your air conditioner, this is an indication of problems and the air conditioner smells should be checked by an HVAC contractor right away. Find out about the different smells that an AC can produce, what causes them, and how to deal with them.

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What’s Causing Your Air Conditioner To Smell?

This article offers information on the common causes of AC odors.

Moldy Smells Coming From The Air Conditioner

image of mold on an hvac air filter

A moldy, dingy smell coming from the air conditioner is one of the most common complaints among homeowners about strange AC smells. A musty smell is usually the result of water that has accumulated in the drain pains, within the drip lines, or throughout the air ducts. When paired with ambient temperatures, moisture creates the ideal environment for mold and fungal development. In these cases, the cause of the moldy smell is these microorganisms.

The smell of stale air is usually the result of a clogged or dirty air filter. If you live in a high-temperature, high-humidity area, moisture can actually accumulate on the air filter, especially after long periods of not using your air conditioner. When your air conditioner is turned on, the smell of stale air can fill the entire house.

Solution: Regularly empty out the air conditioner’s drain or condensate pan. If this doesn’t get rid of moldy smells, contact an HVAC company to have the air conditioner, lines, and ducts inspected by a professional. If water is accumulating within the actual system, there could be a leak and this means that your central AC unit needs a checkup and inspection to find out why the water isn’t draining correctly. You should note that annual AC tune-ups can prevent cooling problems like these from occurring.

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The Smell Of Cigarette Smoke Is Coming From The Air Conditioner

If anyone in the home smokes cigarettes, your AC system will absorb tobacco particulates with its filter. Every time anyone in the home smokes a cigarette, the resulting particulates will be drawn into the air conditioner and passed through the air filter. This might not cause a problem for a while given that the particles will get trapped in the filter. However, when the air conditioner gets turned on, it may come loose and get into the air that will then be released through the vents. Thus, you’ll be able to smell cigarette smoke even when there isn’t anyone in the building who’s actually smoking.

Solution: Smoke cigarettes near an open window or door to keep the cigarette smell at a minimum, or simply encourage everyone to smoke outside instead. The air filter should be changed or cleaned once each month. The air conditioner itself will need to be cleaned about once a week or once every two weeks to remove any dust and other debris that has accumulated. Also, make sure to schedule an appointment for spring air conditioner maintenance each and every year.

The Air Conditioner Is Emitting A Burning Smell

image of air conditioner electrical wires

If you smell a burnt odor coming from your air conditioner, this might a component or part that’s been damaged. It may be the motor, a cable, or a wire that’s damaged. In some instances, like when the air conditioner hasn’t been used for quite a while, you may smell burning dust as collected debris is exposed to warmer temperatures. When this is the case, the odor will abate on its own. However, if you have a lingering burnt smell, shut your air conditioner down immediately and call an HVAC contractor right away.

Solution: Do not try to fix an air conditioner that’s emitting a burnt smell by yourself. Have a professional HVAC technician handle the problem instead.

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The Air Conditioner Smells Like A Rotten Egg

A rotten egg smell coming from your air conditioner may mean that there’s a decomposing animal in the system. This smell is the result of decomposition gases that carcasses emit as they break down. If rodents, birds, reptiles, or other small animals enter your air conditioning system and die in there, you will definitely get a rotten egg smell.

Solution: Locate the decomposing body within the ductwork or actual system, extract it, and then sanitize the area so that all traces of organic materials are stripped away. If you cannot reach the carcass, get in touch with a trusted HVAC company instead. Regularly have your home air conditioner inspected, pest-proofed, and cleaned.

Gas Odor Coming From Your Air Conditioner

Methyl mercaptan depicting natural gas leakA gas odor is one smell that should never be ignored. Gas smells are usually the result of actual gas leaks. Even though gas doesn’t have an actual odor, gas manufacturers use methyl mercaptan as an additive. The smell of methyl mercaptan is very much like rotten cabbage and this odor means that there’s a very serious problem at hand: a gas leak.

Methyl mercaptan doesn’t just have a foul smell – it’s also an irritant that causes dizziness, headaches, nausea, and many other symptoms relating to the respiratory system. It can cause skin and eye irritation. Prolonged exposure to methyl mercaptan can result in a coma or death.

Solution: Gas leaks are a major warning sign that you need to turn your gas supply off right away. Ventilate your home by opening up the windows and then evacuate the premises before calling an HVAC contractor for urgent service. Do not light anything whenever a gas smell exists as gas is very easy to ignite.

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There are many possible reasons why your air conditioning system is emitting a strange smell. Fortunately, many of these are quite harmless in nature. Some odors, however, shouldn’t be brushed off or ignored as they may point to a very dangerous and potentially fatal issue. Simple cleaning tasks can get rid of some smells as can filter changes, but others require urgent attention from a licensed HVAC professional. No odors from your air conditioner should be ignored. More often than not, taking care of the problem right away will prevent health issues and limit the likelihood of costly HVAC system replacements or repairs going forward.

Lawes Company Can Handle Every One Of Your HVAC Needs

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Monmouth and Ocean County, New Jersey residents have long-trusted Lawes Company for the provision of first-rate HVAC solutions. Our technicians are top-rated and have a reputation for offering superior repairs, installations, system replacements, and tune-ups for all types of HVAC equipment. They are knowledgeable, and with their extensive experience, they’re capable of always getting the job done right.

Lawes Company guarantees highly competitive prices for all of your HVAC jobs throughout the area. You can improve your home comfort, limit your energy use, lower your power bill, and more with our maintenance support. When the time comes to replace your current HVAC system with a new one, we’ll help you find the perfect option for your household and your spending abilities. All of our work comes backed by an impressive satisfaction guarantee. Call Lawes Company right now to schedule a service visit. You can get an in-home estimate for your next HVAC project for absolutely no charge.

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