Air Conditioner Smells Bad When Turned On

Air Conditioner Smells Bad When Turned On

The last thing you need when you get home after a long day at work is to realize that your air conditioner is stinking up your house.

If you’re reading this blog because this is happening to you, pay close attention to what the AC smells like in order to help narrow down what the cause could be.

Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell Bad When Turned On?

Smell around your home and see if any of the descriptions below match up with your situation:

1. Smells Like: Mildew

If your home smells like mold and mildew, you could have a clogged condensate line. An air conditioner works by absorbing the heat and humidity from inside your home. It then removes the moisture, which goes into a drip pan and is drained out of your house through a condensate line. With the passage of time, the drain line can become clogged with mold, mildew, and sludge. To prevent clogs, clean it regularly with distilled vinegar. Once clogged, use a wet dry vac to get it done. Whichever method you use, always remember to turn off the power to your AC system at the breaker panel level.

2. Smells Like: Dirty Feet

This is actually popularly known as the “dirty sock syndrome” within the HVAC industry. It’s caused by mold growing on the air conditioner’s evaporator coils. This could be caused by either a rusty or full drip pan or a clogged condensate line.

To replace the drip pan, shut off power to the air conditioner and remove the front panel. You’ll find the drip pan directly under the coils. If it’s full of water, you’re not getting proper drainage. Unclog the drain line by following the steps above. If it’s rusted, purchase a replacement part from any hardware store.

3. Smells Like: Rotten Eggs

This is the scent you’ll notice if there’s a dead pest somewhere in your air ducts. No matter how clean you think your home is, it’s possible for a rodent to have snuck into your air vents. What you smell is likely to be the decomposing carcass. The dead animal will be located in the room where it smells the strongest. You can get a pair of rubber gloves and disinfecting spray to take care of it yourself, or you can call an HVAC technician to help you.

4. Smells Like: Chemicals

If you can smell chemicals, somewhat intertwined with a slightly sweet scent, you may be dealing with a refrigerant leak. To confirm, pay attention to additional telltale signs, such as a hissing sound, humidity indoors, and frost forming on the condenser unit.

If this is the case, call an HVAC professional immediately, since exposure to refrigerant could lead to poisoning.

5. Smells Like: Burning

If you haven’t turned on your air conditioner in a while, dust particles will accumulate in the air ducts. Once you turn it on, the dust will burn, and you’ll smell it through the air vents (this can also happen when you first turn on the heater after a period of inactivity).

However, if the burning smell doesn’t disappear after a couple of minutes, check to see how dirty are the air filters. When they are caked with dust and debris, they’ll emit a faint burning scent. They’ll also block airflow, increasing your energy bills, so take care of this regularly (at least once a month).

If none of the scenarios described above apply to you, a burning scent could be a sign of an overheating motor.

Call Blair’s Air Conditioning for AC Repair in Pinellas County and South Tampa

If you have any issues with your AC, let us know. Our experienced HVAC professionals will get it back up and running in no time. We offer 24/7 emergency AC repair services, and we’re open 365 days a year.

If everything’s already working properly, we can do a maintenance check to ensure that your home is ready for the summer.

Call (727) 800-4148 to schedule service.