March 21st, 2017

Common AC Vent Odors & How to Identify Them

Anytime you turn on your AC unit at the beginning of the season, you want to feel cool air. But sometimes you might smell something nasty. If you smell something nasty, there could be a major problem. Although there are some smells that can be dangerous, there are some that are just annoying. Here are the common smells that you could smell coming from your air conditioning unit and what they mean.

Innocent Air Conditioning Vent Odors

Mildew – Because the AC is dehumidifying air as it’s cooling, it’s not a surprise that mildew is one of the odors that you could smell coming from your vents. If there is a lot of water that’s collected from your air and isn’t properly drained, the moisture that lingers could allow mildew and mold to grow. If your filter is dirty, it can make mold grow. So replace your filter first. After you replace it, if the smell still remains, get in touch with a professional to have a cleaning done.

Rotting Garbage – Sometimes a sick rodent or injured bird can get into the air ducts during winter and dies. If this is the case, this could be the reason for the rotting garbage smell since it is decomposing. This isn’t really dangerous. However, you’re going to want to have someone come in and remove the body quickly since the smell is not very pleasant.

Old and Stale Cigarette Smoke – This s caused when someone in the home smokes. Sometimes the fumes get pulled into your condenser coil. That odor then permeates your coil and the odor of stale cigarettes gets blasted into the house whenever you run your air conditioner. Fix this problem by cleaning your coil.

Hazardous Air Conditioning Vent Odors

Burning – When you smell a burning odor, it could mean your AC compressor or fan has some type of mechanical problem. Turn off your AC and then see if the smell is near your equipment. If you notice it, call in an HVAC professional so you can avoid having a fire.

Sewage – Smelling raw sewage when you are running your AC isn’t good. This usually will indicate a sewer line that’s backed up or a sewer pipe that has ruptured close to your ductwork. It only takes a small amount of methane from this problem to cause this smell. So you want to make sure you’re calling your HVAC professional or plumber right away.

Rotten Eggs – You can’t smell natural gas. But if you’re smelling rotten eggs, it often means that you have a gas leak. If you smell this coming from an air conditioning vent, there could be a leak close to the ducts. Immediately leave the house and first call the gas company and then an HVAC professional.

Gun Powder – After you fire an older gun, the smell’s quite distinctive. If you are smelling something similar coming from your vent, it could mean that your AC fan motor or circuit board has shorted out. An HVAC professional should be called before you run it again.

Exhaust Fumes – Even though your air conditioner isn’t powered by gas, it’s electric, you can still smell exhaust if there’s a leak in the engine. You should call an HVAC technician to find out what is happening.

These are all odors that should be checked out by HVAC professionals. Even when they are not dangerous, it is a good idea to look into it so that it doesn’t turn into an annoying problem.

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Our goal is to help educate our HVAC customers in the Port Charlotte and Charlotte County, Florida area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC, Heating and Air Conditioning systems).

If you are contemplating having your air conditioning repaired, Contact Dales Heating and Air Conditioning by calling (941) 629-1712 or by filling out our secure Contact Form.