• Joseph Harris

Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell?


Man smelling an odor

Those of us who live in the Southern states know the importance of having a well-functioning air conditioner in our homes; to be without one is a potentially life-threatening situation in the summer months. As we gear up for warmer days ahead, it will be essential to get our system in good working order in order to provide clean, cool comfort for ourselves and our loved ones.


Where is that strange smell coming from?

So you discover after turning on your air conditioning unit for the first time this season that something smells funny. Could it be that your AC unit is malfunctioning, or that something has made its way inside your ventilation system, causing unsavory odors to waft throughout your home? Whatever the case may be, prompt attention must be given to that strange smell, for you may have a more pressing malfunction issue on your hands. Read on to see what may be happening to your HVAC unit.


A burning smell

If you fire up your air conditioner only to smell a burnt or burning smell, don’t be too alarmed; it may just be excess dust and debris is burning off your condenser coils. It’s when the burning smell persists that you have a more significant issue. A burning smell could indicate that you have a motor about to break down, or you may have a broken capacitor that needs attention. Other burning smell issues could indicate problems with:

  • Circuit board

  • AC fan

  • Compressor

Turn off your unit promptly and call in an HVAC technician to diagnose and repair your problem to prevent more damage to your unit and to your home.


An acidic smell like nail polish remover

If you smell something resembling acetone—a common chemical used to make nail polish remover—you most likely have a refrigerant leak. If your unit hasn’t been appropriately serviced or it is nearing the end of its life, the AC coil can develop leaks and cracks. This can cause your unit to underperform, and it also poses a serious health risk to you and your family.


A musty odor

In addition to changing your air conditioner filter regularly, you’ll need to regularly schedule ductwork cleaning to keep your unit running efficiently and prevent indoor air pollution that can contribute to respiratory issues. A musty or mildewy order can indicate that your ventilation system needs cleaning. Make this a routine part of your maintenance schedule to prevent more serious system and health complications down the road.


A decaying smell

There are times when small animals like birds, snakes, and rodents get trapped inside the ductwork of our homes. With no way to escape, these animals expire and begin decomposing inside your ductwork. If you notice a decaying or rotten smell that is not going away, call in a trained HVAC technician to assess your ductwork and make recommendations for removing the offending animal so you can breathe clean once more.



A rotten egg smell

Do not ignore a rotten egg smell in your system; this indicates that a gas leak is present somewhere. If you smell this coming through your vents and around your home, do not turn on any electrical devices. Leave the property immediately and call your local gas company to assess your home and its safety.


Leave it to the professionals!

Unless you have extensive knowledge of HVAC systems and ductwork, your system is best left to the professionals. Tropic-Air HVAC professionals are trained and well-equipped to handle all kinds of air conditioning issues. We will diagnose and make recommendations for your system that work with you, your needs, and your budget. If you smell something downright rotten in your home, give us a call and breathe easy once more. Visit ​​https://www.tropicairfl.com/ for more information.