There is nothing like the warmer weather to bring some joy and make you thankful for your air conditioner. However, too often, your air conditioner brings with it a strange and often unpleasant smell. What causes these smells, and is there anything you can do about it?

Musty Smell

You have probably had the experience of starting your air conditioner, only to be met by a strong, musty smell. This smell is most often caused by too much moisture left trapped in your system. This moisture develops mold and mildew, which then comes out through your vents as your system runs.

One common reason your system will maintain moisture is when your system needs to be cleaned. The collection of contaminants tends to attract and retain moisture, allowing it to grow the yuck.

Burning Smell

A burning smell can come from a number of sources, and not all are cause for concern. When your system has sat unused for a while, it can collect dust that burns off when it first starts. This smell will usually be faint and will dissipate quickly.

However, if the burning smell is strong, lingers, or there are other signs of a system malfunction, shut it down. It could indicate a melting control board, wiring, or a faulty fan motor. The problem with these issues is that they can quickly become a broader fire hazard if ignored.

Car Exhaust

You may not think your air conditioning is capable of emitting a car exhaust smell. This is especially interesting because the system does not run on a gasoline-powered motor.

However, some people do experience this smell, and it does come from their system. One way this smell comes from your system is when exhaust from a vehicle gets sucked into your system through a leak.

More commonly, this smell emanates from heated fluids from within the system. These fluids are normally sealed, so if you smell exhaust, this may indicate a dangerous refrigerant leak.

Sewage Smell

Your air conditioner may even pick up a sewage smell and bring that through your vents. This is usually caused by a leak in your sewage line. The gases are then picked up by a crack in your ductwork.

Dirty Socks

Have you ever thought your air conditioner smelled like dirty gym socks? While this may happen if you leave your dirty laundry near your air conditioner, there is actually a direct cause.

This dirty socks smell is caused by a dirty evaporator coil, clogged condensate drain, or stagnant standing water in the system. The best way to deal with this smell is to get a professional seasonal cleaning.

Cigarette Smoke

No one likes the smell of stagnant smoke hanging around the house. Unfortunately, tobacco smoke lingers and permeates almost all surfaces. This includes your HVAC system, especially your air filters.

If you do not have a smoker in your house, it is possible the smell is getting picked up by someone smoking nearby. Like car exhaust, the smoke likely made its way in through a crack or breach in your system.

Dead Animal

Occasionally you may notice the unique smell that resembles a dead or rotting animal. This is very likely what you are smelling. It is not uncommon for a small rodent to crawl into a part of your air conditioner before meeting its demise.

For this kind of smell, you may want to change your air filter and have your system professionally cleaned. If you suspect an animal, consider also contacting an animal control specialist for assistance.

How to Deal With These Odors

The best way to handle these odors when they happen is to shut your system down and let them dissipate. Sometimes that is enough to clear the air and be able to move on.

However, preventing the odors in the first place is your best course of action. Most can be dealt with by having your system professionally maintained every spring. A tech will clean your evaporator coil and circulating fan, along with testing the electrical components.

They will also test your refrigerant level to ensure there is no evidence of a leak. All of this work helps prevent and solve many of the offensive smells your air conditioner may emit.

People around Las Vegas turn to Fast Response Services for our 20 years of experience in repairing and maintaining air conditioners. We are also sought after for our expertise in heating installation, maintenance, and service and air quality control solutions. Call to schedule your consultation with one of our expert technicians to get rid of your awful odors today.

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