What to do when your AC starts to smell?

It is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly

What to do when your AC starts to smell?

When your AC is working how it is supposed to be, you shouldn’t smell anything. But when you do smell something while your AC is running or even switched off, one thing is sure, you need to get your AC serviced. These can be due to a variety of issues and reasons, so here’s what you need to do when your AC starts smelling.

Types of AC smell, causes, and what you can do about it

There are a few different bad odours that your AC gives off. These are fairly distinguishable and, generally, you can guess what is actually wrong in your AC based on these smells alone.

1. Smells like wet old cloth or stinky feet

This is one of the most common bad odours, and the cause of this problem is also pretty common. It is from sitting water that isn’t draining properly, which gives off a bad odour. This usually happens when you don’t get your AC serviced or cleaned regularly. Thorough cleaning by a professional will easily resolve this issue.

2. Smells like burnt plastic

A faint burning smell or something similar to gunpowder indicates an electrical fire hazard. It may be due to a broken capacitor that’s overheating, the motor that needs lubrication, a broken fan belt, or any other electrical issues. Sometimes, it can also smell like exhaust fumes or something combustible. These are all serious things which you shouldn’t ignore. You should contact a professional technician to have a look. You should also immediately stop using the AC until the issue is fixed.

3. Smells like pungent chemicals

If your AC is giving off a chemical smell that is pungent, then it may be due to refrigerant leakage. You shouldn’t use your AC in this case and avoid being in the same room to be extra safe. Contact a technician and have them take a look to resolve this issue. This is one of the more serious issues that you shouldn’t ignore, and call a professional immediately.

4. Smells like rotten things

This can be primarily due to small insects or rodents dying in the air outlet unit around the cooling coil. The easiest way to check for it is simply to take off the outer cover of the indoor unit. You may also have to remove the filters to be sure. If you do find something like that then you can clean it by yourself. All you need is a pair of gloves, disposable bags, and necessary AC cleaning agents. Make sure that you run the AC on the Fan Mode for the first 30 minutes after cleaning it. This will make sure your AC is fully dry.

5. Smells like something musty

This is simply due to mold, fungus or bacteria formation inside your indoor unit around the air outlets. You can check for it yourself, and also fix it on your own by removing the external cover of the indoor unit and cleaning it. If not you can always contact a technician who will take care of it.

ALSO READ: Here’s why regular air conditioner servicing is important

Before you try to inspect the problem on your own, you should always unplug both the AC units and cut off the power to be safe. There are a few other smells as well like cigarette burning, rotten eggs, garbage-like, etc. These more or less fall into one of the above categories. Anytime you smell something close to burning then it has to do with electronic circuits. If it smells rotten, then more often than not, it is stagnant water or moisture along with bacteria. But in some adverse cases, it can also be refrigerant leakage. Regardless of the smell, you shouldn’t take it any of them lightly.

How to prevent your air conditioner from producing bad odour

If you notice your air conditioner is producing bad smell, you can first try to identify the type of smell (from the list above). Typically, specific AC problems result in a specific type of smell from your AC.

However, if you are unable to figure out why your AC is smelling, here are a few basic things you can do to alleviate the problem:

Clean the air filters

Clogged filters can lead to unpleasant odour. You can clean the filter as per instructions or replace them.

Keep the unit dry

Mositure buildup inside the AC can result in mold growth, which can cause bad smells. You can wipe the outdoor unit and empty the drain pan regularly to ensure your unit is dry.

Schedule professional servicing

While you can do some basic AC maintenance, it is also preferable to get a qualified technician to look into AC troubles. They can not only deep clean the unit but also identify potential problems and fix them before its too late.

So, if your AC starts to smell bad, don’t panic. In most cases, it is a problem that can be easily fixed in a few steps.

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