Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell?

Air conditioning units are essential and convenient appliances in our homes. They cool down the air on sweltering days and facilitate fresh air in our living spaces. However, your air conditioner might occasionally blow cold air followed by foul odors that smell like rotten eggs or dirty socks. The best solution is to determine the source of the bad smell and address the issue to prevent it from happening again. Below are several culprits of a smelly AC unit and what you can do to get rid of it.

1. Clogged Drain Lines

Air conditioners need proper drainage to operate well and efficiently. If your AC drain line gets clogged, it might fail to drain, leaving water sitting inside the unit. You’ll notice this issue if the cooling system produces a foul smell and becomes less effective. If your unit continues to work through the sitting water and the blockage, it might get damaged.

Solving this AC problem is pretty simple. First, turn off the unit and call your AC service to inspect it. The professional will remove the debris blocking the system and drain the sitting water to restore normal operation.

Regular AC care and maintenance can prevent your system from developing clogs. You can also consider removing leaves and any other debris that collects around and on your air conditioning unit from time to time. This way, you’ll prevent debris from being blown inside of your system during stormy weather.

2. Pest Issues

A strong rotting odor indicates a pest problem within your AC unit. Your system can attract pests and birds trying to escape cold temperatures, hot weather, rain, and other harsh outdoor elements. Once inside of your unit, these critters might choose to make your appliance their new home or have a difficult time escaping from the system.

When pests invade your house, the best solution is to contact a pest control professional. These experts will work with you to get rid of unwanted guests. Removing the pests or invasive bugs producing the foul odor will clear your house’s air.

One of the best ways to prevent pests from accessing your house in the first place is by sealing your residence. During the home sealing process, the professionals will inspect and seal all openings in your residential property. Apart from keeping unwanted pests at bay, sealing your home will also reduce your electricity bills and improve your efficiency.

3. Mildew or Mold

When excess moisture gets trapped inside of your AC unit, it can create mildew or mold inside the system quickly. Your heater can provide temperatures and dryness that prevents these problems throughout the cold seasons. Unlike your heating unit, however, your air conditioner can encourage the development of harmful bacteria pretty fast. That will create an unpleasant odor that’s then circulated throughout your living spaces, impacting your air quality.

If you notice a mildew or mold smell inside of your house, contact your AC company for maintenance. The experts will inspect and service the unit to ensure it’s clean and safe for operation. You can prevent mildew and mold problems with regular inspections and annual AC maintenance.

4. Burning AC Components

If your air conditioner produces burning odors, you might be dealing with an overheating motor or another burning component. Whether it’s due to a faulty capacitor, worn-out bearings, or any other electrical problem, this issue is likely to impact the normal function of your system in the long run.

To solve this problem, turn off your system and call your AC service. Depending on the extent of the damage, the specialists might recommend repairs or replacing the entire system.

5. Gas or Exhaust Fluid Leaks

A gas or exhaust fluid leak in your cooling system can cause odors that indicate serious problems. The exhaust system is responsible for keeping your indoor air clean. However, if damages within the unit cause exhaust fluid leaks, it will produce an exhaust-like odor. Likewise, a skunk-like odor from your AC unit indicates a gas leak in your home. You may have natural gas leaks entering your house through the system. The gas leak can be unscented, or it may have a smell.

Gas or exhaust fluid leaks need immediate professional attention. An emergency HVAC service can address all of your concerns within a short time. However, it would be best to evacuate your residence until the technician deems it completely safe. To protect your family against the dangers that come with gas leaks, always ensure that your home’s carbon monoxide detector is in good working condition. Regular AC servicing can also prevent these fluid and gas leaks from occurring.

6. Ventilation System Problems

Ventilation system issues can also generate a moldy odor. Without proper air filtration, dust, debris, and excess moisture can circulate throughout your living spaces. Eventually, your AC unit will emit foul smells, causing air quality issues. The best solution for this problem is to change the unit’s air filters. The filter change schedule will depend on the number of individuals living in your home, the pets you own, and the air filters you purchase.

Frequently changing the air filters will not only eradicate the unpleasant odors, but it will also protect your AC unit from damage. If you’re experiencing a mildew or mold problem due to inadequate ventilation, your HVAC service will resolve the issue for you. However, if your house doesn’t have a good ventilation system, contact a reliable AC contractor near you to install one. Having a sound ventilation system, changing air filters, and scheduling AC service will help eliminate foul smells in your system. Annual maintenance will also include routine inspections, which can help avoid ventilation-related problems.

7. Cigarette Smoke

You might’ve noticed no-smoking zones and smoking areas in public places. The no-smoking zones don’t have air conditioning. Therefore, the air from these areas has no chance of getting picked up by a central AC unit and distributed in the no-smoking places. The same logic also applies to your residential property.

If you have a family member who smokes inside of your house, the burning cigarettes’ smell can get trapped in the evaporator coil as well as the filter. As your air conditioner works, it will pick up this smell and spread it throughout your living space. To solve this issue, change the AC unit’s air filters. Also, if you must smoke, do it outside, not inside the house. A professional cleaning service can also help eliminate the trapped cigarette odor in your home.

Concluding Thoughts

Bad smells originating from your air conditioner aren’t only unpleasant, but they can also pose serious threats to your general health and that of your entire household. Depending on the primary source, bad AC odors can lead to allergic reactions, asthma attacks, skin irritations, sore throat, dizziness, respiratory complications, and painful and red eyes.

Foul AC odors can also be an indication of malfunction and might require professional attention. You can contact a technician from Custom Comfort Air to resolve the issue and restore regular operation to increase the system’s overall efficiency. Our company also offers cooling services, smart thermostat installations, air quality systems, and furnace services.

If you reside in Houston, TX, and are experiencing foul AC odors, contact us today for professional and satisfactory solutions to all of your AC problems.