Why Does the Air Coming Out of My Air Conditioner Vent Smell Funny?

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At one time, it was commonly believed that humans could discern approximately 10,000 different odors. Molecular biologist Leslie Vosshall, a researcher at Rockefeller University, conducted a study that proved otherwise. Did you know, the human nose can detect at least one trillion odors? The olfactory sense is highly attuned and triggers immediate memory responses. Some fragrances make you smile, and others can make you laugh. However, there’s nothing funny about a bad smell coming from your air conditioning vents. If you’ve been experiencing something out of the ordinary coming from your AC vents, or you find yourself asking what is that funny odor when you step into a room, consider the following possible causes for malodorous scents connected to your air conditioning system.

Musty Dirty Socks Smell

If you’ve ever left your laundry in the washing machine over the weekend (over a week – if you’re a bachelor) you know this smell only too well. The “dirty sock” odor is unpleasant and undeniable. Mildew loves damp, dark, cool places which your air conditioner, drainage lines and pans and ducts can provide. Often, in Arizona, people notice the smell when they first turn on their air conditioners in late spring. It’s important to note, moisture can build up in your HVAC system in any season, for a variety of reasons. The best thing to do is to call in an expert to determine where the moisture is coming from and how it’s affecting your air conditioning system. Moisture can also lead to mold, which can be a serious problem and is not to be taken lightly.

Electrical Burning Odor

When a motor overheats or if there’s an issue with wiring, you may notice an electrical burning smell. This smell will get your attention and requires immediate action on your part. Turn off your air conditioning unit at the circuit breaker and call for service immediately. Do not try to convince yourself that your AC unit just needs to cool down. Electrical problems are serious and can cause extensive damage if ignored.

Animal Infestations

Not often, but occasionally, rodents and other little furry friends find their way into HVAC system ducts. The pitter patter of little feet echoing down the vents in the dead of night can be a clue. However, if you have the misfortune of one of those little fellows expiring within the ducts, you will most assuredly notice a foul odor. This problem will call for a duct system inspection and cleaning.

If Your Air Conditioning System Doesn’t Pass the Smell Test

There are many other “fragrances” that our customers have tried to describe to us over the phone. The best way for us to determine the cause of a foul odor is to inspect your entire HVAC system. Call Ellsworth Home Services today for service, and we’ll do our best to help your house pass the smell test.