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Home AC Smells Bad When Turned On

When your air conditioning system kicks on, you shouldn’t have to run for air fresheners or light a candle to reduce a less-than-pleasant odor. Yet one of the most common complaints we get from Florida homeowners is that their air conditioning system smells bad when it runs.

While lots of things can cause your air conditioning system to smell, most are easily remedied. Learn more about the most common reasons your air conditioner smells bad when turned on and what you can do about it.

5 Reasons Your Home AC Smells Bad When Turned On

When something unusual is going on with your air conditioning system, it can cause different scents to come from the vents within your home.

Many factors can cause an unwanted smell. These are some of the most common underlying causes.

1. Dirty Evaporator Coils

No one wants the home to smell like old cigarettes, but it’s a common issue for homeowners, especially for those who own older homes.

If you or someone in your home smokes cigarettes, or the previous owners smoked inside, the fumes can be sucked into the evaporator coil.

As the odor permeates the ductwork, the evaporator coil blasts the smell of old cigarettes throughout your home every time you run the air conditioner.

2. Dust Is Burning Off

Smell something burning?

That’s one of the most common scents to come from your air conditioning system when it kicks on. But it’s usually nothing to worry about.

Many times when you use the heater after weeks or months of inactivity, dust will burn off. The smell should dissipate after a few minutes.

3. Clogged Condensate Drain

Does your air conditioning system smell like mold or mildew when it kicks on? This is likely caused by a clogged condensate drain.

The condensate drain works to move water from within your air conditioning system to the outside of your home. Over time, however, the condensate drain can become clogged. As water backs up, it can cause a musty smell.

To fix this issue, remove any blockage from the condensate drain or have your local HVAC technician take a look.

4. Air Filtration System Needs to be Inspected

Do you have a whole-house cleaner or ultraviolet lights within your air conditioning system?

These filtration systems work to remove contaminants from your home but sometimes they can falter.

When they aren’t working correctly to remove contaminants, these contaminants can make the air start to smell.

5. Mold or Bacteria Buildup in the Evaporator Coil

When mold or bacteria build up in your AC unit, it’s often in the evaporator coil because large amounts of moisture can build up here. This is the perfect environment for mold to grow.

This scent often resembles dirty socks and is nicknamed the “Dirty Sock Syndrome.” You’ll know why if you ever happen to come across it.

It’s not dangerous if taken care of quickly, but if left it can spread and contaminate your air supply. To correct the issue, take out the coils, clean them, and clean the affected parts of the unit. The smell should disappear shortly after that.

Contact Sansone for AC Maintenance & Repair in South Florida

If your air conditioning system smells and you’re not sure why, our team wants to help.

At Sansone, your home’s comfort is our top priority. We understand how hard it is to relax when your air conditioning system isn’t operating how it should be.

That’s why we provide comprehensive air conditioning and heating services to South Florida homeowners and beyond.

Call us today for help diagnosing that foul odor, or conveniently schedule an appointment online with one of our technicians.

Broward: (954) 800-2858
Palm Beach: (561) 701-8274
St. Lucie: (772) 879-5656

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