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Why Does My Air Conditioning Smell?

Sep 25, 2023

Indoor air quality

A bad smell from your air conditioner can be a serious risk to your indoor air quality. If you air conditioner smells musty, moldy, burning, rotten, chemical, or pungent, it is highly recommended to reach out to a local HVAC professional.

Types of air conditioner smells

If you notice a foul smell coming from your HVAC unit, try to narrow down what it smells like. Some of the most common air conditioner smells are:

  • Musty Odor – A musty smell often points to mold or mildew growth within the AC system. Mold spores thrive in dark, damp conditions, and your air conditioner’s moist interior can be a breeding ground if not properly maintained.
  • Moldy Odor – This is a more intense version of the musty smell and typically suggests a more advanced mold problem within the AC unit or ductwork. Mold can pose health risks, so it’s crucial to address it right away.
  • Burning Odor – If your AC emits a burning smell, it could be due to overheating components or electrical issues. Ignoring this odor can lead to more significant problems, including potential fire hazards.
  • Rotten Egg or Sulfur Odor – This smell may indicate a natural gas leak within your HVAC system. Natural gas is odorless, but a sulfur-like odorant is added for safety. If you notice this smell, turn off your AC, ventilate the area, and contact your gas company immediately.
  • Chemical or Pungent Odor – This odor could be the result of refrigerant leaks. Refrigerants have distinct odors, and inhaling them can be harmful. Seek professional assistance if you suspect a refrigerant leak.

Is your AC unit emitting one of the smells listed above? Contact our Orlando, FL HVAC team to get it looked at right away.

Man smelling his air vent

What to do if your AC unit smells bad

If your HVAC unit smells out of the ordinary, it’s bes to follow these steps to ensure the safety of everyone in the buidling.

  1. Turn Off the AC – The first step is to turn off your air conditioner to prevent further circulation of the odor and any potential safety hazards.
  2. Check for Visible Issues – Inspect the area around your AC unit for any visible signs of mold, water leakage, or burning components. If the smell is very strong or you’re uncomfortable with this step, keep the unit turned off and contact an air conditioning company.
  3. Determine When the Odor Occurs – Pay attention to when the odor is most noticeable. Does it happen when the AC turns on, when it’s running, or when it’s turned off? This information can be important when discussing the issue with a technician.
  4. Ventilate the Area – If the smell is strong, open windows and doors to ventilate the space and remove the odor from your home.
  5. Contact a Professional – It’s highly recommended to reach out to a local HVAC company to find the root of the issue and fix it for good.

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