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Common AC Problems: My Cooled Air Smells Funny

Are you noticing one or more funny smells when your air conditioner is running? Those smells might be coming from the unit itself. Though many are harmless, some indicate a serious issue that can threaten your health, your indoor air quality, and your home itself. You can sometimes identify and fix the problem yourself. Other times you might need to call in a professional to take a look.

Why Does Your AC Smell Funny?

If your air-conditioned house smells terrible, here’s what might be causing it:

  • Mold, mildew, and must smells are caused by excess moisture or humidity inside the unit. These odors will flow through your house when the AC’s running.
  • A dirty-sock or stinky-feet smell is usually caused by dirty evaporator coils, a clogged condensate drain pan, or stagnant water.
  • A stale cigarette smoke smell is likely coming from the filter and evaporator coil if someone in the home smokes. The smoke has been trapped there over time.
  • A burning smell is likely the result of something actually burning! Possible sources are an overheated motor, a wiring issue, or a mechanical problem. This is a serious problem that requires immediate attention from a professional! If the smell is more like gunpowder, it could be a circuit board or fan motor short.
  • A rotten egg or fishy smell might be coming from melted plastic components or a gas leak. This is a serious situation–contact a professional to inspect this issue.
  • A sewer gas smell is typically caused by dry P-traps that allow gases and odors to creep up your drains.
  • rotting carcass smell is likely the result of a tiny critter expiring in your HVAC or the duct system. The quicker you discover, remove, and clean it, the better.

How to Fix an Air Conditioner That Gives Off Funny Smells

While you can fix some smelly AC problems yourself, others call for a trained and qualified HVAC technician’s skills and expertise.

  • For mold, mildew, and musty smells, installing a whole-house dehumidifier can help.
  • For dirty evaporator coils, stagnant water, or clogged condensate drain pans, schedule professional cleaning or a yearly spring AC tune-up to solve and help prevent these issues.
  • For stale cigarette smoke smells, changing the filter and scheduling a tune-up and cleaning can help.
  • For burning smells, turn off your HVAC system immediately and call in a professional for advice and repair.
  • For gas or fishy smells, immediately turn off the power to the breaker box circuits, leave your home, and contact the gas company or fire department. Once you’re cleared to go back inside, schedule an inspection to discover what’s wrong with your unit.
  • For backed-up or ruptured sewer lines, immediately call a professional plumber or HVAC technician.

The best way to keep your home’s air conditioning system running as efficiently as possible is to have it regularly maintained, cleaned, and inspected.

Schedule a Repair Call

If your home’s air conditioner gives off funny smells, don’t try to cover them up. Instead, have the problem handled by a professional HVAC technician. Aladdin Air Conditioning & Heating can often get to the root of an AC problem more quickly and provides any needed repairs in a shorter time than you could do it yourself.

Contact us online today to have one of our friendly and experienced team members solve your smelly AC problems right away. You can also call us at (805) 480-0327 or (805) 480-0327. 

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Office Location

1090 Lawrence Dr. #105
Newbury Park, CA 91320

License #739136


Ventura County


San Fernando Valley