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6 Toxic Air Conditioning Smells and What They Mean

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Picture this: you’ve just gotten home after a long, hot summer’s day and are eager to chill out in your air conditioned home. You kick off your shoes, settle into the couch, and flick on the AC with your handheld remote control. But, after a few moments, something is wrong.

You quickly notice a bad smell wafting around the room and immediately identify your air conditioning unit as the culprit.

No one likes a smelly air conditioner, and bad air conditioner smells are not uncommon. But, there’s more than one type of smell that your air con can produce, and more than one cause of the issue. Your funky air quality could smell like anything, from rotten eggs to car exhaust fumes.

We’ll go through the common air conditioner smells below, and explain the usual causes of these nasty stenches. We’ll also cover how to fix these issues so that you can get back to cooling down in your smell-free home once again.

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Burning Smell from AC

If your air conditioner smells burnt, there’s a simple explanation. Every air conditioning system is rigged up with many different electrical components. These include power wires, fans, compressors, and circuit boards.

If you notice burning smells coming from your air conditioner, it likely means that one of these electrical components is burning. If this is the case, you should turn off your HVAC system right away. You should then contact a professional HVAC technician, who will be able to find a safe solution to fix the issue.

Inactivity can also cause a burning smell to come from your air con system. During autumn and spring, you likely won’t be using your heating and cooling unit as much as you would during the year’s other seasons. During periods of inactivity, dust can settle inside your air conditioner unit.

When your air conditioner is eventually turned on again this dust can burn off, resulting in an unpleasant odour. This bad smell should only be temporary, however, and so shouldn’t be a big problem to worry about. If the smell does linger, it’s again best to turn off the power and contact an air conditioning professional.

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AC Smells Like Mildew or Mould

If your home AC smells like mould or mildew, it’s not too much cause for worry. This is actually one of the most common causes of bad air conditioner smells. If your air conditioner smells musty, it’s generally due to an accumulation of water in either the drip lines, drain pan or the air ducts. This excess moisture can cause mildew and fungus to grow, resulting in the unpleasant ac unit smells.

Dirty filters can also be why your HVAC system smells bad. This can happen in areas with high humidity rates. If your home is in a hot and humid area, turning your air conditioner on after an extended period of time can also cause moisture to gather in your air filters.

In either case, you’ll need to get a professional in to help you here. They can provide an expert duct cleaning service to remove the moisture and the nasty mildew smell. While mould won’t damage the air conditioner itself, it can affect your home’s air quality which can be a problem for household members with respiratory health issues.

If this is the case, it’s best to refrain from using your air conditioner until you can contact a heating and cooling professional.

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Air Conditioner Smells Like Exhaust Fumes

This probably won’t be shocking to hear, but an air conditioner does not have the same mechanical make up as a car. As such, there shouldn’t be a running exhaust smell coming from your household HVAC system. Even so, this does happen to some air con systems on occasion.

If your air conditioner smells like car fumes, it most likely means that there’s a leak in your system’s refrigerant line. Leaking refrigerant is a big problem, as it can affect the performance of your HVAC system. A leak can also release dangerous chemicals into the air, impacting both the environment and potentially the health of your household.

Contact a technician as soon as possible if your air conditioner smells like this. They can get repair the leak and make sure your home stays safe. Also be sure to ventilate your home by opening all your doors and windows while you wait for a service technician to arrive.

A dozen eggs

Unpleasant Rotting Odour From Your Air Conditioner

Noticing a rotting smell coming from your HVAC system? You might find yourself with an AC gas leak that needs repair. You might also find, particularly if you have a ducted system, that a rodent or small animal has found its way into the ducting and died in there.

It’s not uncommon for creatures like mice, lizards, rats, possums and even birds to find themselves trapped inside the ducts or compressor of an air conditioning system. They find their way in and, unfortunately, become unable to get out and therefore die.

It only takes just a few days for that unmistakeable dead animal smell to form, and be dispersed via the air conditioner throughout the house. Thankfully, a licensed air conditioning technician will be able to locate the source of the smell and take the necessary course of action to eradicate it.

In the meantime while you wait for them to arrive, you can open all doors and windows to allow fresh outdoor air to come it.

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Cold-Like Coolant Smells

Air conditioners emitting a coolant-like smell will need to be professionally assessed before they are used. There are many fluids at play within your air conditioner, besides just water. If your AC system malfunctions, these fluids can be the cause of various smells that can escape from the unit. To make sure that your unit is safe to use, call an air con technician to give you a proper diagnosis.

If your AC smells weird and you don’t know why, contacting an expert should always be your first course of action. The experts at Air Con Service Near Me can service, repair and replace your air conditioner to keep your home’s airflow fresh and clean all year long. Contact us 24/7 for quality air conditioning service today.

Please note: This information is provided for advice purposes only. Regulations differ from state to state, so please consult your local authorities or an industry professional before proceeding with any work. See our Terms & Conditions here.