The main purpose of any AC unit is to regulate air temperature and control airflow, but the salesperson said nothing about air odors. Many homeowners ask us about a weird smell coming from their AC unit from time to time. Simply put, the air from the vent shouldn’t smell weird or smell at all and there are several reasons it does. Some odors are only temporary and pose no harm, while others are more persistent and could mean that something is wrong with your air-conditioning system. The next time you sense something smells foul inside your AC take notes and consult an experienced air conditioning expert whether the smell is a cause for alarm.

Fire to the Smoke

If your AC unit suddenly and inexplicably starts producing an odor reminiscent of smoke, it could potentially be a red flag. Smoke is frequently associated with a mechanical or an electrical issue within your AC system. Some parts like the fan or the motor have a tendency to overheat or even catch fire if you don’t subject your AC to regular maintenance.

If the AC unit smells like it had caught fire and smoke flows through your vents, turn off the AC system at the thermostat immediately. Go outside and check the outdoor unit. If there’s smoke coming out of the condenser or you can just smell it, don’t turn the system back on. Call an emergency air conditioning expert immediately.

Tobacco Smoke

If you have a heavy smoker in your home, your AC unit will likely spread that smoke across every room and absorb the odor inside the system. The stale smell of tobacco smoke can get absorbed by the condenser coils and the AC will spread the smell across the ventilation ducts. If you are a smoker this smell might go over your head, but when a non-smoker family buys a home from a smoker they will most certainly smell something is wrong with the AC.

Fortunately, a good company offering air conditioning services in has the tools and the technique to clean the ducts and minimize the odor caused by excessive smoking. However, doing the same with the coils can prove more difficult, which is why it is advised that you schedule regular maintenance if you have a heavy smoker in your home.

Damp Odor

If the air coming from the vents has an unpleasant smell reminiscent of mildew or mold, that is probably exactly what it is. Mold is known to form in the ductwork and on the coils, and if left unchecked can spread across the entire home. There could be several reasons why the inside of your AC system caught mold, and the likely ones are clogged drainage tubes, bad insulation or a leak in the ducts. To get rid of the unpleasant smell an expert must find the cause of the problem first, and then proceed to handle the cleanup.

It is important to handle this issue as soon as possible, as mold can spread across the entire home through the AC system. Mold could cause far more problems that the unpleasant smell, it could cause severe health conditions.

First Winter Run

When you run your furnace for the first time in the winter, a weird smell is not an unusual occurrence. This is one of the examples where the smell is harmless and often resolved quickly on its own. It is caused by the dust accumulated in the heating system during the summer. When you turn the system on again in the winter, the dust burns and produces the peculiar smell. Open a few windows and let your home vent and you’ll be rid of the smell easily.