Imagine entering your house and immediately smelling a foul stench, And because you have the air conditioner running, the odor is now dispersed throughout the house. As a result, the effect might be more noticeable in certain rooms. As you search your home for the origin of the suspicious smell, you realize it is present throughout the whole space. At that point, you realize that the smell may be coming from your air conditioner.

If your air conditioner has a bad smell, there might be a few culprits to blame. If you fail to address the issue quickly, the smell might worsen, your air conditioning system might be at risk, and your budget could take a hit as you try to fix a problem that has spiraled out of control. Even worse, the smell could be linked to something that could sicken your family. Taking prompt action is essential to getting the smell under control and protecting your home and family.

Let’s examine what causes your air conditioner to have an unpleasant odor, what the various odors can indicate, and how to get your home smelling fresh again.

1. The Evaporator Coil Is Dirty

A filthy evaporator coil is a common source of unpleasant smells from an air conditioner. The evaporator coil’s job is to convert the liquid refrigerant into a gaseous state, which enables the system to cool and refresh the air in your house. Excessive moisture can trigger mold and mildew growth. You can have professional technicians clean these coils once you access them near the air handler or interior unit or inside the access panel. Technicians will use a soft brush and a gentle detergent mixed with warm water to gently clean the buildup off the coils.

To find the source of the excess moisture responsible for the buildup, you’ll also need a professional who is well-equipped to handle the job. Professional technicians can inspect your air conditioner and provide repair options.

2. Clogged Drainage Lines

Drain lines are an essential part of the heat exchange process. They remove and drain excess moisture from the HVAC system. Ordinary wear and tear, damage, and malfunctions can all cause clogs, which can trigger the growth of mold, mildew, bacteria, and other microorganisms. You might be able to clear small clogs on your own, but a pro can determine why the clog happened in the first place and get your AC draining again like it’s supposed to.

3. Dirty Air Filters

Filters trap dust and other particles floating through the air, but if they aren’t changed regularly, mold and mildew can grow on them and create a musty stench throughout the house. In addition to smelling bad, dirty air filters will reduce the effectiveness and efficiency of your AC unit, potentially increasing energy bills and increasing the risk of damage to the unit. You can change your air filters on your own and keep your air conditioner working efficiently throughout the summer.

4. Issues With Your Ventilation System

Air ducts keep the air from your AC unit moving throughout the home. If your ducts are dirty, failing, or leaking, you might notice unpleasant smells. This is caused by microorganisms, mold, and mildew growing in the ducts. Your home also might have warm and cold spots, and your AC might run over time trying to maintain the temperature at your desired level.

If your air ducts have a problem, it’s time to call in the pros. HVAC specialists can clean the ducts using industrial vacuums, seal them against leaks, examine them for other issues, or replace them entirely if needed.

5. The Air Conditioner Smells Like It’s on Fire

It is quite normal for your air conditioning unit to emit a burning smell for a brief time after it has been inactive for an extended period, such as the first time you turn the heater on for the cold season. This occurs when the unit burns off the dust built during an inactive period. After a few uses, you shouldn’t have to worry about this anymore. If your system hasn’t been idle for a while, the scent might be a sign of a more severe issue that requires the care of a specialist. This is especially true if the stench is exceptionally strong or lingers for an extended period. Air conditioners have many electrical parts, each of which can potentially catch fire. Call a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning professional rather than attempting to solve the issue alone.

6. Stagnant Water in Drain Pan

The drain lines aren’t the only part of the AC unit that can get clogged. The drain pan can as well. This allows stagnant water to build up, and stagnant water offers the perfect environment for mold, fungi, and a host of unwanted organisms to proliferate. If your AC drain pan has collected water, you can soak up the dirty water with a towel and then clean the pain using a mild bleach-based detergent. You’ll also need to tackle the source of the problem, which means calling a professional to dig deeper and determine why the drain lines and drain pan are struggling.

7. The Air Conditioner Smells of Toxic Gases

If you turn on your air conditioner, you may have a refrigerant leak and notice a peculiar odor. When your air conditioner is cooling your house, refrigerants like freon are used to chill the air. This air then gets disseminated throughout your home. Refrigerants are very effective for air cooling. However, upon direct exposure, they become poisonous. Inhaling refrigerant may lead to refrigerant poisoning, which has a wide range of adverse consequences and can even be lethal in extreme cases.

An odor of methane or sulfuric compounds may be present, indicating that an animal, such as a mouse, rat, bird, or possum, has found refuge in the ducts of your air conditioning system and has subsequently perished there. This is especially true during the winter when animals are looking for warmer places to nest since it is cold outside. However, deceased animals are responsible for more than just unpleasant odors. They are also capable of gnawing through and causing damage to ductwork, wiring, and individual components.

Rely on the Experts in Sterling, VA

Bad smells aren’t just offensive to our olfactory systems. They can also be early warnings that something is not right with your AC system. A trained expert can examine your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system and advise you on the best way to address the issue effectively and efficiently.

At Meade’s Heating and Air, we offer cleaning and repairs, and if necessary, we can replace your AC unit, too. We offer routine inspections and emergency services outside normal business hours for your safety and convenience. Call Meade’s Heating and Air in Sterling, VA to schedule an air conditioning repair call so that you can get back to breathing fresh, clean air.

Meade's Heating and Air

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