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Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell Bad?

As much as we all want our homes to be smelling clean and fresh whenever we turn our air conditioner on, sometimes they, unfortunately, do not. Ever come home from work, turn on the AC, and it smells like someone stuffed a dozen sweaty gym socks into your vents? This is quite literally called Dirty Sock Syndrome, and it’s a common reason your air conditioning unit may be pumping out not-so-sweet scents. There are plenty of other reasons why you may be experiencing this problem, and the technicians at HVAC Plumbing & Unlimited are ready to discuss them all.

What’s That Smell and What Does It Mean?

So, you smell something bad and want to know what it means for your home’s safety. There could be a lot of reasons why your AC smells bad, including:

  • Mold and bacteria buildup. Unfortunately, this is the number one reason why AC units smell bad. Often times, moisture builds up on your AC’s evaporator coil after a lot of continued use. This moisture is then made worse by dust collecting over time due to inadequate filtration.
  • Full drainage pans. Sometimes drainage pans overfill or flood, and that standing water can start to produce an unpleasant scent throughout your home.
  • Blocked drainage lines. It’s easy for mold or dust to block your drainage line and then start to expel air that’s not safe to breathe. Some moisture in the drainage line is OK, but too much is bad!
  • Deceased animal. We hate to imagine it, but sometimes an animal from outside may crawl towards your AC unit for warmth. If they die nearby, that will definitely contribute to an upsetting smell around the house.

It’s important to note that while mold is certainly not ideal, it does not pose a critically serious threat to a person’s health unless in large amounts. However, you do want to be extra aware of mold buildup in homes with people who have excessive allergies, asthma, or compromised immune systems.

How Can I Fix This? When Do I Know When to Get a New AC Unit?

It’s a pretty complex process to clean your AC unit yourself. Here’s a general rundown of what you’re going to want to do:

  • Turn off your unit. Yeah, you’re not going to want your AC on while working on it. Best to be safe and turn the whole thing off.
  • Make a cleaning solution. This generally consists of a little bit of bleach and a LOT of water. Use protective eye coverings.
  • Clean evaporator coil. Every unit is different, so this may be hard to find. It should be in a panel on the outside of your unit. Be sure to scrub in the same direction as your coils.
  • Wash hands, towels, and brushes thoroughly.

While cleaning your evaporator coils yourself should do the trick, sometimes mold and dust just won’t want to leave. Our trained team at HVAC Plumbing & Unlimited knows exactly how to repair your AC unit to get it smelling brand-new again.

However, if your scent does persist, it may be time to think about replacing your air conditioning unit. Luckily, the professional technicians at HVAC Plumbing & Unlimited know how to repair air conditioning units throughout all of Northern Virginia.

Avoid a smelly air conditioner and call the professionals at HVAC Plumbing & Unlimited at (703) 493-1200 or schedule an appointment online today for all your AC needs throughout Northern Virginia!

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