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6 Toxic Air Conditioning Smells and What They Mean

6 Toxic Air Conditioning Smells and What They Mean

Picture this: you’ve just gotten home after a long, hot summer’s day and are eager to chill out in your air conditioned home. You kick off your shoes, settle into the couch, and flick on the AC with your handheld remote control. But, after a few moments, something is wrong. You quickly notice a bad smell wafting around the room and immediately identify your air conditioning unit as the culprit.

No one likes a smelly air conditioner, and bad air conditioner smells are not uncommon. But, there’s more than one type of smell that your air con can produce, and more than one cause of the issue. Your funky air quality could smell like anything, from rotten eggs to car exhaust fumes. We’ll go through the common air conditioner smells below, and explain the usual causes of these nasty stenches. We’ll also cover how to fix these issues so that you can get back to cooling down in your smell-free home once again.


Burning Smell From AC

6 Toxic Air Conditioning Smells and What They Mean

If your air conditioner smells burnt, there’s a simple explanation. Every air conditioning system is rigged up with many different electrical components. These include power wires, fans, compressors, and circuit boards. If you notice burning smells coming from your air conditioner, it likely means that one of these electrical components is burning. If this is the case, you should turn off your HVAC system right away. You should then contact a professional HVAC technician, who will be able to find a safe solution to fix the issue.

Inactivity can also cause a burning smell to come from your air con system. During autumn and spring, you likely won’t be using your heating and cooling unit as much as you would during the year’s other seasons. During periods of inactivity, dust can settle inside your air conditioner unit. When your air conditioner is eventually turned on again this dust can burn off, resulting in an unpleasant odour. This bad smell should only be temporary, however, and so shouldn’t be a big problem to worry about. If the smell does linger, it’s again best to turn off the power and contact an air conditioning professional.


AC Smells Like Mildew or Mould

6 Toxic Air Conditioning Smells and What They Mean

If your home AC smells like mould or mildew, it’s not too much cause for worry. This is actually one of the most common causes of bad air conditioner smells. If your air conditioner smells musty, it’s generally due to an accumulation of water in either the drip lines, drain pan or the air ducts. This excess moisture can cause mildew and fungus to grow, resulting in the unpleasant ac unit smells.

Dirty filters can also be why your HVAC system smells bad. This can happen in areas with high humidity rates. If your home is in a hot and humid area, turning your air conditioner on after an extended period of time can also cause moisture to gather in your air filters.

In either case, you’ll need to get a professional in to help you here. They can provide an expert duct cleaning service to remove the moisture and the nasty mildew smell. While mould won’t damage the air conditioner itself, it can affect your home’s air quality which can be dangerous for household members with respiratory health issues. If this is the case, it’s best to refrain from using your air conditioner until you can contact a heating and cooling professional.


Air Conditioner Smells Like Exhaust Fumes

6 Toxic Air Conditioning Smells and What They Mean

This probably won’t be shocking to hear, but an air conditioner does not have the same mechanical make up as a car. As such, there shouldn’t be a running exhaust smell coming from your household HVAC system. Even so, this does happen to some air con systems on occasion.

If your air conditioner smells like car fumes, it most likely means that there’s a leak in your system’s refrigerant line. Leaking refrigerant is a big problem, as it can affect the performance of your HVAC system. A leak will also release dangerous chemicals into the air, which can impact both the environment and health of your household.

Contact a technician as soon as possible if your air conditioner smells like this. They can get rid of the leak and make sure your home stays safe. Also be sure to ventilate your home by opening all your doors and windows while you wait for a service technician to arrive.


AC Smells Like Eggs

6 Toxic Air Conditioning Smells and What They Mean

Does your HVAC system smell like rotten eggs? This likely points to a natural gas leak in your home. Although natural gas doesn’t have a smell, utility companies add a strong odourant so that households can identify an AC gas leak smell when one is present.

If you do smell rotten eggs or sulphur, you should call a professional immediately. Prolonged exposure to leaking gas can be extremely hazardous to your health. It can lead to reduced oxygen levels, nausea, and loss of consciousness. Gas is also incredibly flammable. If you notice this odd smell from ac units in your home you should open all doors and windows, evacuate the area, and then call a technician right away.


Chemical Aromas

6 Toxic Air Conditioning Smells and What They Mean

Air conditioners emitting a chemical smell, such as a paint thinner or formaldehyde scent, will need to be professionally assessed before they are used. There are many fluids at play within your air conditioner, besides just water. If your AC system malfunctions, these fluids can be the cause of various chemical-like smells that can escape from the unit. To make sure that your unit is safe to use, call an air con technician to give you a proper diagnosis.


Strong Gunpowder Smell

6 Toxic Air Conditioning Smells and What They Mean

If the bad smell from air conditioner units in your home reminds you of gunpowder, the culprit is likely a fried fan motor or circuit board. As these AC features are made from different chemicals and metals, they can also pose a danger to respiratory systems if the fumes are circulated into the air. Once again, the best course of action is to call a professional as soon as possible for help. They can inspect your unit and find a reliable long term fix to the problem.

If your AC smells weird and you don’t know why, contacting an expert should always be your first course of action. The experts at Jim’s Air Conditioning can service, repair and replace your air conditioner to keep your home’s airflow fresh and clean all year long. Contact us 24/7 for quality air conditioning service today!