Air conditioning is an important part of modern life, especially during the hot summer months. When you turn on your air conditioner, you expect nice, cool, refreshing air to enter your home. But sometimes, AC units release weird or concerning odors that make you curious if something’s wrong.
A strange smell coming from your AC unit or ductwork might be no big deal — or it could signal a critical problem requiring immediate attention. When in doubt, turn off the unit and call an HVAC technician to look a little more closely. In the meantime, learn about nine weird AC smells and what they might mean.
A rotten egg smell could point to a gas leak in your HVAC system. Air conditioners don’t run on natural gas, but they use the same blower and ductwork as your furnace, which could be the real culprit for this smell. If you notice a rotten egg smell coming from the vents, turn off your air conditioner immediately, open the windows for ventilation and evacuate the house. Then, call an HVAC contractor promptly to check for a gas leak and perform the necessary repairs.
A musty smell usually indicates mold or mildew growth inside the AC unit or ductwork. These microorganisms multiply in damp, dark environments, making the evaporator coil and air filter likely places for mold to set in. To get rid of the musty smell and prevent further mold growth, hire an expert to clean your air conditioner, replace the filter and find any other sources of moisture.
If someone in your home smokes, chances are the AC will start smelling like stale cigarettes before long. The accumulation of nicotine and other chemicals inside the unit, air filter and ductwork circulates into your home every time the air conditioner runs. Change the filter regularly and plan routine maintenance to help prevent this AC odor. Also, it would be wise to not smoke inside the house.
If you detect a sewage smell from your HVAC system, your plumbing or sewer system could have a problem. The smell may be caused by methane gas emitting from a broken or blocked sewer pipe or a dry drain trap, which has managed its way into the ductwork. Methane is dangerous, so if you smell a sewage-like AC odor, contact a plumber without delay.
A dirty air conditioner with a buildup of bacteria and fungi can emit a smell that reminds you of dirty socks. This odor may be particularly strong when you switch on the AC for the first time in several months. Regular cleaning and maintenance helps prevent this odor from occurring.
If you smell a skunk-like odor coming from your AC unit, there may be a dead animal or animal waste inside the ductwork. It’s possible a sick or injured bird, rodent or other pest climbed inside an air duct over the winter, where it died and began decomposing. This is a health hazard, so reach out to an HVAC technician to address the problem.
If your AC releases a burning smell, it’s likely due to an electrical issue, such as a defective motor, circuit board, compressor or wiring. If any of these components overheat, they may emit a burnt, gun powder-like smell. To reduce the risk of permanent damage, turn off the AC immediately and call an HVAC technician to diagnose and fix the issue.
A smell similar to car exhaust could imply a refrigerant leak. Refrigerant is the chemical your air conditioner uses to extract heat from the indoor air and exhaust it outside. A leak can be a serious health and environmental hazard, so turn off your air conditioning and call for help.
A chemical-like smell coming from your air vents could be traced to nearby vehicles, cleaning products, paints, adhesives or other substances. If your AC blower fan motor is situated in the garage, even a car’s idling exhaust could mingle with the indoor air. These are serious concerns that could warrant sealing the ductwork or even redesigning your HVAC system.
If you’re worried about a weird smell coming from your air conditioner, turn to Golden Seal Service Experts for the repair you need. We use state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment to quickly and accurately define the problem. Then, we’ll explain the most cost-effective repair methods and offer recommendations to prevent a recurrence. We believe in our quality work so much that we back every repair with a one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee! Contact a Service Experts office near you for more information or to request air conditioning repair in Saint Charles.
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