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Common HVAC Odors: The Cause and How to Eliminate the Smell

When the summer heats up, you turn to your trusty air conditioner to keep your family and pets comfortable. Like any other appliance in your home, your HVAC system can emit some strange and downright offensive odors. The reasons for these smells could be anything from innocuous to potentially dangerous.

Here are a few common HVAC odors you might encounter, the cause of the smell and what you can do to fix the problem.

A Musty Odor

If you notice a musty odor coming from your HVAC system, the culprit is a very common issue that many homeowners face: mold. Your air conditioner is working overtime in the summer, and all the moisture that’s produced will often collect in the unit itself or in the ductwork. All mold requires warmth, air and moisture, which makes your HVAC system the ideal place for it to grow.

If you notice a musty odor, it is critical to contact an HVAC technician immediately. The technician can pinpoint the reason why mold is flourishing and correct the problem. For example, the repair could be something as simple as replacing the air filter or cleaning the ducts.

Decaying Garbage

Another common odor that you might notice coming from your HVAC system will remind you of stinky garbage. Unfortunately, this odor often occurs when a rodent or another small animal has decided to call your HVAC system home.

Several types of animals will seek refuge in ductwork, and if they are allowed to remain, they will eventually build a nest and reproduce. The smell of garbage is actually caused by either the nest, the animal’s fecal matter, or if the animal dies, the decaying body.

If you notice this unpleasant odor, talk to a professional about the problem. If they discover an animal infestation, an Exterminator has the tools and knowledge required to remove the pests, and clean up the mess.. For example, if there is a hole in the ductwork, a HVAC technician can fix the damage, which will help ensure no animals can reenter.

Smoke or Burning Electrical Odor

If you notice a smell that resembles a burning electrical odor, it is critical that you act quickly. From the circuit board to the motor, there are several electrical components on your HVAC system. If any of them are damaged or overheating, it could lead a fire.

The first step you need to take is to turn off the HVAC system. Head out to the condenser, which is found outside of your home, or to your furnace. If the smell is stronger near either of these components, it is critical to contact an HVAC technician immediately.

Excrement or Sewage

Finally, another potentially dangerous odor that must be addressed by a professional immediately is the smell of sewage or excrement. This smell often indicates an issue with your sewer line. When your sewer line becomes damaged, or the sewer backups in your basement, the odor will often make its way through your ductwork.

The offensive odor is actually methane gas, which is very hazardous to humans and pets. If you notice the smell of sewage, contact an HVAC technician and a plumber right away. Both professionals can help pinpoint the issue and come up with a solution. For example, your plumber might repair the broken sewer line, and the HVAC technician may suggest having your ductwork cleaned to eliminate any lingering odors.

From a distinct musty odor to the smell of sewage, there are several offensive odors that can come from your HVAC system. If you notice these odors or have any additional questions, contact Bryant Air Conditioning, Heating, Electrical & Plumbing.