6 Reasons Why Your Air Conditioner Smells

October 29, 2022

6 Bad Smells From Air Conditioners And Their Surprising Causes

Foul odours are the worst. They can invade your home and make it uncomfortable to live in.
If your home smells bad, your air conditioner could be the culprit. A bad-smelling air conditioner can ruin your day, also known as "dirty sock syndrome."
This summer, if you turned on your air conditioner and found that it was spreading a foul odour around the house, you may be wondering why.

There are a number of reasons that may be responsible for your air conditioner's smell.


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A bad smell from an air conditioner can signify a problem and potentially dangerous problem like an electrical fault or fire.
So, if you turn on your air conditioner and a bad smell comes from the vents, you should investigate what is happening.

However, sometimes bad odours from your air conditioner are annoying and it is time that the filter is cleaned or replaced and you need to hire an Aircon Cleaning Company

Or it's also possible that the circuits are burned out, and a potential fire hazard is heating and cooling your home.
Whatever the reason is, you should have air conditioner odours investigated immediately.

The following are seven of the most frequent air conditioner odours, along with their causes:

1. Mould or musty smell in air conditioners

If your air conditioner is giving away a stale or musty smell in your home, it could be due to a leak in the system. It's typical for drip lines, drain pans, or evaporator coils to clog and leak. This leaking water can accumulate and become a suitable breeding ground for mould. Mould and mildew are two of the most common causes of bad odours.

However, a musty odour can also be caused by a dirty air filter, especially in regions with high humidity. The extra moisture can build up on the filters and create unpleasant odours; dirty filters can also affect air quality. Therefore, we recommend cleaning the filters every three months by brushing off the dust and washing them in soapy water. Anyone can clean a dirty filter. However, to fix a leak, you need the help of an expert.
You may need to call in a mould cleaning company if there mould is throughout the air conditioning system

2. Air conditioner smells of smoke

Air conditioners are equipped with many components and circuits. And as with all electrical devices, faults can occur. For example, a burning smell indicates that one or more electrical components are on fire. Water damage, overheating, dust buildup, and various other issues can contribute to this.

If the odour dissipates quickly, there may be no need to worry. However, if the smell stays longer than a few seconds or the unit emits smoke, you should immediately turn it off and contact an HVAC specialist before continuing to use it.

Regular maintenance can reduce the risk of buildup and clogs, so it's always a good idea to schedule annual maintenance.

3. The air conditioner has chemical smells

If an air conditioner emits a chemical-like odour that resembles paint thinner or chloroform, it may signify that your system is leaking refrigerant

In reverse-cycle air conditioners, refrigerant gas treats the air before it is dispersed throughout your home. 

A chemical smell indicates that refrigerant leaks can harm the environment and limit your air conditioner's performance.

4. AC smells of exhaust fumes

Air conditioner that are overworked or not serviced can produce an odour similar to a car's exhaust.
Air conditioners have motors. Engines need to be lubricated. And that's how oils come into play. If the oil leaks or the central unit overheats, the oil can burn, and the unwanted exhaust odours can affect indoor air quality.

If the exhaust fumes are not adequately ventilated, they can harm your health. So contact a heating, ventilation and air conditioning professional and fix the problem.

5. Air conditioner smells like fireworks

An air conditioner that smells like fireworks or gunpowder may indicate a severe problem. Most likely, the fan motor or circuit board has burned out and needs to be replaced. Overheating, water damage, or inappropriate voltage on the circuits can cause this. You may need to call an electrician to ensure that there is no electrical damage to your homes wiring or you need a new switchboard.

The smell of burned-out electronics is not unlike the burnt smell mentioned above.

However, the damage here can be much worse. Again, the fumes can cause breathing problems. Therefore, it is wise to immediately shut off the air conditioner and open the windows before making any repairs.

6. Aircon smells like rotten eggs

In Australia our air conditioning does not typically use gas.
If you smell rotten eggs with a gas ducted heating - you must call a gas specialist and fast as rotten eggs can be a gas issue.
In air conditioning - Rotten egg smells are usually something dead.
If you are hit with a  rotten egg or sulphur smell, there is a good chance that an animal or rodent has died in your system.

Rats, mice, lizards, birds and opossums have been known to explore the inside of a compressor or the vents, only to become trapped inside and die. It's only a few days before they start producing a distinct odour that you can't mistake for anything else.

Contact professional technicians who can fix this problem and investigate whether the system's performance has been affected.



Air conditioning repairs

If you notice any of the above odours in your air conditioner, you should have it checked by a professional who can recommend an appropriate solution. Repairs or a thorough cleaning are all that is needed. However, if key circuits are burned out, it may be time to replace the air conditioner or consider upgrading.

Whatever the cause, call Aircon Cleaners and we can schedule an inspection or provide after-hours emergency service.
Request a repair today and improve your indoor air quality!



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