Why does my air conditioner smell so awful? What should I do if the air coming out of my central air conditioner smells chemical? What does freon smell like?
These are the most common questions that home and business owners ask us as HVAC contractors.
Most of the time, there’s no good reason for your air conditioner to start stinking. It will definitely hurt your health.
Even worse, some smells are dangerous and need to be fixed right away. Here are the top six and how to fix them.
Your air conditioning unit is one of the most used things in your home. Because of this, when it breaks, it hurts and is very inconvenient.
Luckily, it does a great job of telling us when it needs to be fixed.
One of the most important things that many people notice about their air conditioner is that it smells bad.
But an odor problem does need to be looked at and doesn’t always mean that fixing it will be expensive.
A freon leak, a broken sewage vent pipe, or a backed-up sewer line next to some ducting are all worse than a dirty air filter or mold growth caused by too much moisture in the HVAC system.
Here are the six smells from an air conditioner that are most noticeable and could be harmful:
- Burning smells or electrical smells
Electrical smells are a common sign of a problem with your air conditioner’s compressor or fan, a broken electrical part, or a wiring problem.
Because these parts are made of different chemicals and metals, it is not good to be around their smells for a long time.
When an air conditioner is first turned on, it may give off a burning smell that may smell like electricity or dust.
Most of the time, the smell goes away in 20 to 30 minutes. If so, it was probably getting rid of dust inside the appliance by burning it.
This is usually what happens after the device hasn’t been used for a while.
Talk to a qualified HVAC contractor about the problem and, if necessary, have the unit fixed.
If you’re a bit of a DIYer, here’s an article for you on DIY AC repair.
Electrical smells are usually caused by the compressor, fan motors, or wiring.
If you try to fix these on your own, you could hurt yourself badly. If you don’t feel comfortable making repairs yourself, ask an air conditioning expert in your area to look at it.
- It smelled like gunpowder.
Gunpowder smells and electrical smells are related.
If a fan motor or circuit board has burned out, it might smell like gunpowder.
Made of different metals and chemicals, these may also be bad for your lungs.
A system that has been sleeping for a long time should be checked by a professional before it is turned back on.
- A smell of rotten eggs
If you smell sulfur or rotten eggs coming from your air conditioner and you don’t have any rotten eggs hidden elsewhere in your house, it’s probably a natural gas leak that got into your ventilation system.
Even though gas has no smell, utility companies add the smell to warn people of a serious leak. So, if you smell gas, there is a problem.
If your AC smells like this, it could be because there are bugs or dead animals in your attic or ductwork.
So, it would be better to have that checked out. If you find a dead animal, call a pest control service to get rid of it.
Low levels of exposure are unhealthy on their own, but high levels can deplete the oxygen in your blood, make you lose consciousness, or even kill you.
Gas cause death each year because it is very flammable and explosive.
If you smell something like this at home or at work, open all the windows and leave the building right away.
Also, talk to the natural gas provider in your area.
- exhaust fumes
Even though some parts of your AC or heating system leak fluids, there may still be exhaust gases even if your systems are not powered by gas.
If you smell something like exhaust, call an HVAC specialist in your area to have the problem looked at by a pro and avoid dangerous situations.
When oil and other liquids are burned, they can release a lot of dangerous gases into the air. The chemical makeup of this gas may be different from when it was a liquid.
When you breathe in these airborne particles, they can be very hazardous for your health. They reduce the amount of oxygen in your blood, which can cause a number of serious health problems.
- Smells from chemicals Chemical smells can be found in a lot of places.
Using the information below, you could figure out who is most likely to be the criminal.
Chemicals in containers without lids
There’s a chance that the smell isn’t coming from your air conditioner at all. The source could be open chemical containers kept near an air conditioning intake or ducting.
Once these smells are picked up by the airflow, they will spread quickly to the rest of the house.
Homeowners and business owners often keep chemicals in garages and attics to keep them safe.
These, on the other hand, could leak over time if they are not properly sealed and get into the airflow.
Please find all the chemical storage containers at your home or business and put them somewhere safe so that they won’t get in the way of your air conditioning system.
The actual cooling system
Before you use your air conditioning system, you should check to see if it smells like paint thinner, formaldehyde, or any other chemical.
A lot of fluids are used by your air conditioning system. If an appliance breaks down, it could be to blame for a number of smells that smell like chemicals. Talk to a local HVAC contractor to get an accurate diagnosis.
Smells of glue
If you just had work done on your ducts, that might explain why your home smells like chemicals.
The duct installation glue can give off a strong chemical smell as it dries. In this case, you will have to wait for the smell to go away because it won’t go away right away.
Turn on the AC fan and open the windows in your home or business to wait for it to pass. If the problem keeps happening, call a local HVAC technician.
Freon is a chlorofluorocarbon, also called a CFC or a refrigerant. Freon is used to take the heat out of the air and put it somewhere else, usually outside your home or place of business.
Because of this, you stay cool on the inside. But unfortunately, it can also be dangerous if it is not kept in the right place.
In a closed system, freon moves through coils and lines in the condenser and evaporator. These coils and lines are mostly made of copper, but sometimes they get cracks that let refrigerant leak out.
Leaks of Freon could be dangerous. If you think there might be a refrigerant leak, you should talk to a local HVAC contractor. They can use a freon leak detector to find the problem and fix it.
- Smells of mildew or must
Does the air conditioner smell like dirty socks?
One of the most common smells coming from an HVAC system is one that smells like mold or mildew.
When the air conditioner is running, a lot of condensation builds up inside.
If it is not properly drained, this moisture could leak into the airflow, get into the air ducts, and cause mold to grow in your ductwork.
This could happen because the condensate drain line is clogged. So, it’s worth looking into.
Contact a local HVAC contractor to check for mold and mildew in your HVAC system and air ducts.
They will also check your condensate line for clogs if you don’t know where to look.
Cleaning your ducts is a simple way to improve the quality of the air inside your home.
Mold is not a big problem with the air conditioner itself.
Your family’s health is at risk because the mold in your system makes the indoor air quality bad.
Mold makes both adults and children more likely to get respiratory infections.
Your air conditioner should be turned off until this problem is fixed.
If your air conditioner smells mold, you should have a professional look at it.
How a central air conditioner should smell
Now that you know about the different kinds of AC smells, you can talk to your local HVAC contractor about a solution.
When you’re trying to solve a problem, use all of your senses. Pay attention to abnormal sounds like knocking when the HVAC system is running.
Look around the appliance to see if there are any extra liquids or liquids that don’t belong there.
Usually, the system just needs to be serviced, based on how it smells. But smells like sulfur or gas indicate a bigger problem.
If you smell something burning or like electricity, turn off the appliance right away and call a local HVAC technician.
Your local HVAC contractor can quickly figure out what the problem is and give you a number of tips for keeping your AC safe.
Get an HVAC contractor right away!
So, if you need emergency service for your HVAC system and are looking for a technician to fix your air conditioner or furnace repair, we can help.
Call CBJ Passaic Plumbers if smells coming from your air conditioner are ruining your day.
We have the best local, independent home service providers who know a lot about all kinds of HVAC systems.
We can also help you get a new filter if you need one.