Why Does My AC Smell Bad and How to Fix It?

April 11, 2024
HVAC services in Deptford, NJ

If you’re experiencing foul-smelling odors when your AC runs, you probably want to figure out what’s happening quickly. Read on to learn more about what causes AC odors and how to fix it.

What Causes AC Odors?

Below are four of the most common reasons that AC units produce odors. If you are unsure how to diagnose which issue you have, a professional can help you to discern the cause.

1. You Have a Clogged Drain Line

Your AC’s drain line can clog over time and become filled with algae, mold, and other debris. Not only does this problem prevent the line from draining properly, but the trapped water emits a stagnant, musty smell. Fortunately, this problem has a straightforward solution. An HVAC expert can unclog the line, restoring its function and eliminating any stagnant odors.

2. The AC Unit Needs a Filter Change

When was the last time you changed your AC unit’s filter? Regular filter changes ensure airflow isn’t hindered and prevent odor-causing bacteria from growing. Ideally, you want to change your filter every 30 days. If you’re not sure what type of filter your AC uses, your local HVAC professional can help you figure out this information.

3. You Have a Refrigerant Leak

Do you notice a chemical-like odor when your AC runs? If so, the culprit could be a refrigerant leak. Air conditioners use refrigerants that contain chemicals. When those chemicals are exposed to air, they produce an odor similar to nail polish remover or acetone. These chemicals do more than cause your home to smell unpleasant. If left unaddressed, indoor air quality is affected, and your air conditioner won’t cool your home properly. A refrigerant leak isn’t a DIY project. You need professional heating and cooling specialists to fix this problem.

4. The Unit Is Dirty

Residential air conditioning units offer mold and mildew the ideal environment to thrive. Evaporator coils and drip pans are the most likely areas for these microorganisms to grow. Cleaning the AC unit before the cooling season begins removes dust and debris and reduces moisture buildup that can lead to moldy odors in your home.

Fixing Smelly Air Conditioners

You deserve to have a home that’s cool and smells fresh. Fortunately, most AC odors are easily repairable. Here are some ways HVAC technicians address smelly air conditioners.

Schedule Regular Maintenance

Prevention is the key to many air conditioning problems, including smelly units. Routine maintenance includes inspecting and cleaning of the unit. When you hire a professional HVAC technician to perform maintenance, the service call includes cleaning key components of the system that contribute to foul odors, such as cleaning drip pans and evaporator coils. The service also includes cleaning the drainage system, if necessary, to prevent mold growth and mildew odors. The best time to schedule this service call is in the spring before you begin using your air conditioner.

Maintenance services also catch problems like refrigerant leaks before they get out of hand. While a smelly air conditioner isn’t pleasant, what’s more unpleasant is getting surprised by an expensive repair. For example, refrigerant leaks can lead to a frozen evaporator coil or the unit short-cycling, an industry term describing a cooling system turning on and off frequently without completing a cycle. If refrigerant leaks don’t get repaired within a reasonable time, your air conditioning system could experience total failure.

By understanding the underlying causes of air conditioner odors and taking preventive measures to reduce the risk of foul-smelling odors from taking over your home, you’re doing more than keeping your home smelling fresh. You’re taking steps to ensure your AC unit operates efficiently all summer long, which saves you money on energy costs and keeps repair expenses in check.

Take Action Now to Stay Cool and Comfortable in Your Home This Summer

Air conditioning smells don’t go away on their own. The longer they exist, the more they turn your home into an unpleasant environment instead of a welcomed sanctuary.

To schedule maintenance services, air conditioning repair, and other HVAC services in Philadelphia, South Jersey and the Southeastern Pennsylvania region, contact JAMCO Heating & Air Conditioning today. We can also help with installation for residential and commercial buildings.

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