four Frequent Causes Why an Air Conditioner Smells and The way to Repair It

Does your air conditioner smell? Here is how to get it smelling fresh again!

Photos By: Stock Images

If you find yourself wondering where the unpleasant smell in your home is coming from and have finally tracked it back to your air conditioner, you’re now faced with the problem of getting rid of it. So, if you are wondering how to get your air conditioner to stop smelling, here are some suggestions for dealing with the problem.

If you are unable to find the source or cannot cure the problem yourself, you should call a professional to help you with AC repair. They’ll not only be able to take care of the problem for you, but they can give you solid advice on how to prevent it from happening again in the future.

It’s Time for a Clean Out

The first thing we usually do if we find a bad smell in our home is locate the source and then clean it up. Your air conditioning is no exception. If you don’t regularly clean your air conditioner, it can accumulate dirt and mold. Over time, this builds up and creates that moldy smell you’re experiencing. 

During a hot Arizona summer, it isn’t uncommon for this to happen. So, if you’re trying to figure out how to get rid of that musty smell in your central air conditioner, the answer is to clean it and this is usually as simple as replacing any dirty filters and wiping down any dirt, grime, or moisture that have accumulated around intakes or vents and become stagnant.

Once you’ve found the source of the problem and cleaned it, you’ll want to make this a routine part of your cleaning and maintenance to keep those pesky smells at bay. Be sure to replace your filters regularly before they begin to smell. Dirty filters can not only create smells, they can reduce the efficiency of your unit and affect your health.

Failed Components

Does your air conditioning system smell like it is burning? If so, then you should check into what is causing it right away. During the longest, hottest days of summer, it could just be that it has overheated. If that is the case, you can turn it off and wait a day or two to see if the problem is solved, but that’s likely not a great solution if it was already working overtime to keep you cool due to the heat. 

Your best option is to call for repairs right away rather than spending two days sweating in your own home to see if the problem self-corrects – this is just prolonging the issue. There is a chance that you have a bigger problem, such as a damaged or failing component in your unit or a wiring issue in the electric systems within your air conditioner. You could have a wire that is damaged or that has failed completely.

It is also fairly common for small animals to chew through wiring in outside locations, crawl spaces, or attics. Merely turning off your system for a bit will not correct this situation, but a professional can locate the damage and take care of it for you without risk of further damage or hazarding your family’s safety. It is always better to be safe than regret your choice not to call for AC repairs before a problem escalates.

Carcass Problems

Speaking of animals that chew wires, you might also be smelling a deceased one in your vents. If an animal crawls into your air conditioning and dies there, its carcass will eventually begin to smell. This can be difficult to deal with and embarrassing to boot, but it can also be a health hazard. If you smell something that has the odor of decomposition, you need to shut down your air conditioner and call for immediate HVAC assistance with the situation.

What does it smell like? If you are unfamiliar with this odor, it essentially smells like food waste that has been left in the garbage for too long or rotten eggs. It isn’t a smell you can or should disregard. Get professional help right away.

Standing Leakage

Certain types of air conditioning systems can leak fluids such as refrigerants from the unit. This type of leakage can smell very much like the exhaust fumes you might encounter while driving in high-traffic areas. Odors from leaks can seep into your home in much the same way they creep into your car. 

If you have an attached or enclosed garage at our home, you may get a similar smell from your car running in such proximity to your home when your vehicle comes and goes, but that is usually fleeting. A consistent smell of this nature is more likely coming from air conditioning leakage and should be assessed and repaired by your local HVAC experts.

Are Bad Smells Bad News?

Unfortunately, yes. 

Your air conditioning unit should not be emitting smells that you find unpleasant. If you find yourself noting the same smell routinely, it is a clear indication that there is a problem. We all become accustomed to the smell of our home and it can sometimes take the odor becoming especially pungent before we notice it, so if it has become bothersome, there is a good chance it’s already been present for a while.

Perhaps you’ve not noticed anything, but when you go out for a while to work or shop and come back, a bad odor hits you in the face as you walk in. Don’t let yourself grow accustomed to it before you seek help. Begin seeking it out and if you trace it back to your air conditioning system, get it taken care of before it becomes grimmer, creates bigger problems, or, in some cases, causes your system to stop working at all.

Some smells may just be an annoyance, but others can lead to further damage or even become hazards to the well-being of your family. Get a qualified HVAC technician out to look into the problem as soon as possible if you aren’t able to remedy it yourself with just a bit of basic cleaning and maintenance.

Leave a comment