Get the Bad Smells Out of Your AC

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The cool breeze from your air conditioner (AC) is a welcome relief from the rising heat of hot summer months. The AC unit is one of the most used household appliances and very inconvenient when it malfunctions. Even worse is when unpleasant odors pour out whenever it kicks on.

There are many causes of the foul smell of your AC unit.  Different smells can mean different things affecting your unit, it is not a good sign and can be bad for your health. What makes it worse is that some foul odors are toxic and need immediate attention.

Air Conditioner Smells Like Dirty Socks

The smell is like dirty clothes that have been stored in a bag for too long. The culprit is likely the presence of mold or mildew on evaporator coils, duct or a clogged condenser drain line.

When the AC system removes moisture from the air, it catches water vapor which condenses back to liquid. The liquid should run out of the system leaving it dry. If it doesn’t, it collects somewhere else. Somewhere else is a problem and this is how mold starts growing

All people may develop allergies from poor air quality. However younger, older and those with health issues are more susceptible to serious illness from poor air quality.


Dirty Evaporator Coils


When warm air comes in contact with the cold coils, condensation happens. The presence of dirt or dust makes the evaporator coils an ideal breeding ground for mold or mildew.

Clean evaporator coils are if there is a layer of dust, mold or mildew buildup, presence of ice, or weak airflow.

Cleaning the evaporator coils involves dismantling parts of the system. Consider hiring the services of an AC repair provider for proper maintenance work.


HVAC Moldy Ducts

The presence of mold in your ducts could be due to leaks, high indoor humidity levels or mold growths from other sources.

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You can visually inspect your ducts for mold growth but it will take a professional to do it properly otherwise you are talking about taking the system apart and inspecting it manually. You can also do it yourself… only if you are in this career. Well, if you are planning to become an HVAC contractor then paying for HVAC school is not as bad as you might think.


Let the professionals handle this, they can reach areas that you can’t with their inspection cameras. Cleaning your ducts will be one of their tasks and looking for the cause of the mold growth and fixing it will be their main goal.


Clogged Condensate Drain Line

The function of a condensate drain line is to catch and run out the drops of the evaporator coils. A clogged line traps water that leads to mold, bacteria growth, and even water damage.

You have a clogged condensate drain if water leaks around the AC unit or it shuts off unexpectedly from a water sensor being tripped.

It takes a simple, easy DIY solution to de-clog your drain and saves your bucks from paying a repair service.


HVAC Rotten Egg Smell

Natural gas has a harmless gas called mercaptan added to it so that you can smell a leak. Gas leaks are extremely dangerous.

  • Act quickly, gas leaks are dangerous
  • leave the area immediately and get outside and away from the leak
  • Call your emergency number and the gas company.



A/C Burning Smell or Gunpowder

The scent comes from an electrical problem usually from a defective circuit board or a run-down motor or overloading of the wiring, but it could also just could be dust.

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Heating coils that have not been used for a few months get a build up of dust from the air moving through the system. This should burn off quickly and if the smell persists could be something more hazardous.

If it’s not dust, It is not a health issue but your electric safety is at risk. Turn your HVAC system off immediately to prevent fire or escalate the problem.

Your AC technician will let you know if it can be repaired or you need to replace your unit.


Urine or Ammonia Smell Caused by Mold


It’s not because someone relived themselves near your air conditioner instead the stink comes from mycotoxins, by-products of mold.


Others call it ammonia, whatever, call the experts to have your system checked right away.

Exhaust Fumes

The odor emanates from fluid leaks in the engine and other components of your unit. Burning oil and other fluids can discharge toxic gases which deplete oxygen resulting to myriad health issues.

To prevent the situation from getting worse have your unit checked by the professionals.


Benefits of Hiring a Professional AC Provider

An air conditioner is used for long periods and considered one of the most abused appliances in your house. Just like any appliance constant use tends to cause wear over time.

Most homeowners will find it difficult to maintain the AC system for they don’t have the technical savvy, tools, and experience to handle the situation.

Maintaining an AC unit should be left to the professionals to avoid unfamiliar hazards.

Warranties can also be an issue should a homeowner cause damage to the unit by accident. Lastly, coolant requires special handing and tools and should not be done without the knowledge of its proper use.

1 Comment

  1. Wipe down the parts you’ve soaked, and reattach. That’s all there is to it!