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Why Does My AC Smell Like It’s Burning?

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Why Does My AC Smell Like It’s Burning?

6 Reasons Your AC Smells Like It’s Burning & What to Do Next

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A burning smell coming from your air conditioning system is problematic for numerous reasons. For starters, you’re probably worried your air conditioning system is on fire (don’t worry just yet, chances are it’s probably not!), and two, no one wants an unpleasant burning odor in their home every time they’re trying to cool off or warm up. Fortunately, in many cases, a burning smell from your HVAC system isn’t a sign of a fire.

Keep reading to learn why your air conditioning system is emitting a burning smell and what you can do about it. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the West Palm Beach air conditioning pros at Sansone if you have any questions!

1. Dust Is Burning Off

Did you just turn on your heater, furnace, or heat pump for the first time in a while and now you notice a burning smell?  After months of little to no use (especially in Florida!), the inside of your HVAC system will collect dust. When you turn on your heating system, the dust burns off and releases a slight burning odor.

Solution: Don’t worry. This smell is harmless and should go away within a few minutes. This is the most common reason why air conditioning systems emit a burning odor. However, if your HVAC system is still emitting a burning smell after a few minutes, you may have a different problem.

2. The Air Filter Is Clogged

What can make ac smell like it's burning

If it’s been a while since you last changed the air filter in your air conditioning system, the air filter may be clogged. When air filters become bogged down with too much debris, airflow is severely restricted, which can put excess strain on the motors, fans, and other components within your air conditioning system. As a result, you may smell a burning smell coming from these components.

Solution: Check to see if the air filter is clogged and replace it with a fresh one if so. For good measure, change the air filters each month. This should be a standard part of air conditioning maintenance that you can tackle yourself to keep your AC unit running efficiently!

3. The Capacitor Is Broken

Burning smell from AC

Every air conditioning system has a capacitor which works to power the motor. If the capacitor falters, the motor can overheat and give off a burning smell. Capacitors break for lots of reasons, from overheated circuitry or power surges to general wear and tear.

Solution: In these cases, you will almost always need to replace the capacitor. We recommend turning off your air conditioning system and calling a professional for this one.

4. The Motor Is Overheating

burning AC smell

Similarly to a faulty capacitor, a faulty motor can also emit a burning odor. Over time, the bearings on the motor can wear out and cause the motor to overheat.

Solution: If this is the first time you’ve noticed the burning smell, turn off your air conditioner and lubricate the bearings right away. This will hopefully prevent the motor from burning out completely so you can avoid replacing it.

5. The Belt-Drive Motor Is Overheating

Some air conditioning systems are equipped with a belt-drive blower rather than a direct-drive blower. These systems have a rubber belt with them and can wear out over time and cause a burning rubber smell.

Solution: These rubber bands will eventually need to be replaced, so if you notice a burning smell that also smells rubbery, it is likely time to do so.

6. Electrical Components Are Burning

burning smell coming from AC

If you notice a burning plastic smell that also smells like sulfur or rotten eggs, there could be a dangerous electrical failure lurking within your air conditioning system. There are plastic components surrounding the wiring with your system and is the wiring starts you burn, you will notice a foul odor. This can happen when short circuits, loose screws, defective breakers, or worn electrical connections are present within your system.

Solution: In this case, turn off your system immediately and call your local professional HVAC techs.

Contact Sansone for AC Repair in South Florida

how to get rid of burning ac smell

Sometimes HVAC issues are better left to the professionals. If your air conditioning or heating system is emitting a burning odor or not functioning efficiently, the West Palm Beach AC repair professionals at Sansone can help.

We are here to help as many families as we can, with offices in three locations: West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Broward. We offer a variety of products and services designed to keep your home comfortable year-round. Contact us today to learn how we can help!

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