Your HVAC system is meant to keep your home comfortable and your indoor air clean. While regular maintenance of your HVAC helps maximize its life expectancy and efficiency, there are times when your system can still malfunction. One clear indicator of an issue with your HVAC system is a very distinct odor, which is why it’s important to know what different smells coming from your system can mean. It’s something that should never be ignored, and homeowners need to know what to do if they ever encounter one of these smells. An odor problem doesn’t necessarily mean that the repair will be expensive. It could be a dirty air filter or condensation that has created mold in the unit. It’s important to pay attention to your other senses as well when you’re troubleshooting the smell – is there a noise or fluids on the floor.
What to do for an electrical smell!
One of the most common odors you could smell in your HVAC system is a burning electrical smell. If your HVAC unit smells like it might be overheating, it very well could be. Turn your unit off before attempting to diagnose the issue. Electrical odors can have a variety of causes. For example, there might be bad wiring in your air conditioner, or your motor could be burning out. You can check your air filter to see if it is very dirty, as that can restrict the air flow and overheat the electric resistance heaters. If it’s not an air filter issue, make sure the electricity is turned off at the master switch. This smell needs to be examined by a professional immediately as, like with any electrical problem, there is a risk of fire. Attempting to fix it yourself could result in severe injury.
What to do for a moldy or musty smell!
A smell like mildew or mold is probably the most common ailment of HVAC systems. When the AC is running, there is a lot of condensation within the unit. When the moisture doesn’t drain properly, it can escape into the ducts and cause mold. Finding where the mold buildup is and getting it cleaned up will solve the problem. An HVAC technician can easily handle the problem and make sure it doesn’t recur. To help prevent mildew and moisture problems, fix all water leaks, improve drainage, schedule bi-annual HVAC tune-ups, and frequently replace HVAC filters. Also, if you have exposed earth in your crawlspace or basement, you may want to investigate ways to cover the soil. A good way to protect your home and HVAC system from mold and mildew is to use a dehumidifier to keep moisture in check.
What if you smell rotten eggs or gas?
An odor like rotten eggs is another smell that can come from your HVAC system. This is one of the most dangerous smells when it comes to an HVAC system, as it means you’re probably experiencing a natural gas leak. As natural gas is odorless, utility companies have added the scent of rotten eggs to the gas supply to help warn of possible gas leaks. Provided there aren’t any rotten eggs in your home, the smell of rotten eggs or sulfur most likely indicates a natural gas leak. Don’t take this lightly. Open the windows in your home and get out. Then call an HVAC professional for assistance immediately. However, when you turn on your furnace, you might notice an odor that smells like burning gas. This usually occurs when your system has been inactive for an extended period of time. During the summer, dust settles within the HVAC on the heat exchanger. When the furnace is turned back on, the dust gets burned off. Give it a few minutes and the smell should fade away as the dust decreases.
A common reason that many HVAC units do create more odors is that houses are often built without the necessary ventilation. This causes the unit to run out of air for combustion. This is one of the main causes for foul HVAC odors for many homeowners, which raises concerns about indoor air quality. Make sure to replace the air filter regularly, and have your system inspected at least once a year by a professional. Finally, if you start smelling something weird which you can’t really identify, it’s always best to give a professional a call just to make sure it’s nothing too serious. McMillin Air can help you with any issue you could be having with your HVAC system, give us a call at 623-432-5202!