Bad Odors and Your Air Conditioner

Reasons Why Your Air Conditioner Unit Emits Bad Odors

One important factor in your home’s indoor air quality is the way the air smells.

When you run your air conditioner, the last thing you want is a bad odor emanating from the unit.

Unpleasant odors can make your room almost uninhabitable, so you should not ignore them.

While not all odors are harmful, they are a sign your air conditioner unit needs attention.

Here are some common air conditioning smells, what causes them, and how to get rid of them.


Common Air Conditioner Odors and Causes

Odors may vary based on your unit. But the five types listed below are the most common ones people complain about.


Musty Smell

A musty smell refers to that odor that smells like wet dirt or plants.

This odor’s presence is often a sign you have moisture accumulation and mildew in your unit.

A common cause is a blocked drain.


Urine Smells

Urine smells may make you think an animal got into your unit.

These odors indicate the presence of bacteria on skin cells trapped in the system.

As the bacteria break down organic material, they release ammonium.

This ammonium smells like urine to the human nose.


Rotten Egg Smell

Anything that resembles a rotten egg smell indicates a potential dead creature in the system or just outside.

If you have a central air unit located outside, rodents may have gotten into the unit and died there, for example.

You could also have an animal trapped in your ducts.


Burning or Gunpowder Smell

Burning smells are often serious, especially if you also see smoke.

These odors may indicate you have an electrical problem like an exposed wire or stuck component.

Do not use your unit until you have it professionally inspected.


Chemical and Exhaust Smells

Chemical and exhaust smells are other signs that you may have a leak somewhere inside your heating and cooling system.

The leak could be refrigerant or even gas.

With both exhaust smells and chemical smells, keep your unit turned off until a technician can check it out.


Common Fixes for Some Odors

You may be able to fix some of these problems with simple maintenance.

However, some solutions require a professional touch.

Here are some ways to reduce some odors.


Change or Upgrade Filter

Most people can change their own air conditioner filter.

You may need to dig out your owner’s manual to find where it is and what type of filter you need.

You can also try a better quality filter and see if that works better.


Clean Ducts

Ducts can get dirty with dust and mildew, so they need regular maintenance.

If you keep them well-maintained, you can reduce some of these odors and improve common health problems like allergies.


Unblock Drain Channels

Blocked drain channels cause moisture to build up inside your unit.

This problem creates an unhealthy musty smell.

Check and clear the drain channel if you notice your unit emits these smells.


Check Gas Lines

Even if your unit does not use gas, you could have a leak that emits fumes into your system.

Periodically check your gas lines for leaks that emit a chemical or gas-like odor.

You may also hear the hiss of a gas leak.

Call a professional to deal with gas leaks as soon as you suspect you have one.

When hot weather strikes, you want your air conditioner to be a source of relief and comfort, not a way to stink up your home.

If easy fixes don’t change anything, and your air conditioner continues to emit bad odors, call in a professional. Chrismon Heating & Cooling can send a technician out to see why your unit emits these odors.

We can even help you install a new unit if your old one is unrepairable.

Give us a call and schedule your air conditioner service as soon as possible.