Common Air Conditioning Odors & Their Solutions

Homeowners with central air conditioning need to understand the signs of potential problems with their air conditioning unit. One of the most important things to consider is the development of odd smells coming from your air conditioning system. In most cases, unusual smells from your air conditioning are an indication that the unit is in need of some sort of repair. Here are some of the most common odors you may notice and what could be causing them.

Dirty Foot Odors

You might expect the smell of dirty feet from your teenager's dirty laundry pile, but certainly not from the air vents of your air conditioning system. If you smell an odor like this in your home's air conditioning, it's typically an indication that there's been standing water left somewhere in the system. 

Bacteria in that standing water generates the odor. Whether it's from the evaporator coils being dirty, the condensate pan being full and not draining properly, or a clog somewhere in the drain system, you'll need to have the unit inspected and serviced to eliminate the odor.

Sewer-Like Odors

There is no reason for your home's air conditioning to release a sewer-like odor throughout your home under normal operation. Your septic system should be fully closed and separate from your air conditioning. However, if you find that your septic system is leaking in any way, and that leak has contaminated your air conditioner, you have several problems on your hands.

You'll have to have the septic system fixed to eliminate the leak. You will also need to have your air conditioner serviced so that it is completely clean and disinfected. Otherwise, you risk having the odor continually distributed through the house via the air vents when your air conditioner runs.

Burning Odor

Any time you smell something burning, it should be cause for concern. Typically, when it smells like something is burning, that's because it is. Smelling an odor like something is burning when your air conditioner turns on is usually an indication that the motor may be burning out or there's a wiring short.

A burning smell that resembles what you smell from a fireworks display, on the other hand, could indicate that the fan motor or circuit board could be damaged and need repair or replacement. You will have to contact an air conditioning repair technician for more help in either case. Shut down the air conditioner as soon as you notice a burning odor, then leave it turned off until you can have it repaired.

Stale Smoke Odor

Whether you were a smoker at one time or the prior owner of your house smoked indoors, there's a chance that you're smelling a hint of a stale smoke odor when your air conditioner runs. If this is the case, you don't have to resign yourself to using air fresheners to cover it up.

You can easily address the problem by reaching out to an air conditioning repair contractor. The contractor will replace the air filter in your air conditioning unit to eliminate any residual smoke particles that may still be causing the odor. 

He or she will also take the time to thoroughly clean the unit and your air ducts. This will remove any other particles throughout the system so that the air passing through your air conditioner is clean and free of smoke. If you are a smoker, smoke outside and away from the air conditioning condenser to ensure that this doesn't become a problem again in the future.

Contact your local air conditioning repair contractor today for more information about odors and their solutions. Schedule a maintenance appointment if you are struggling with these or any other air conditioning odors.