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Can You Ignore Unusual Air Conditioning Odors?

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No one likes a smelly home, but HVAC odors can sometimes be more than just a nuisance. Often, unusual smells can be a harbinger of more severe problems. When you notice smells coming from your AC vents, then it's time to take notice. While not every unusual smell indicates a critical failure, it's worth understanding where these smells come from and when you should be concerned.

The Role of HVAC in Air Quality

If your home has a central air conditioning system, it has a crucial role in your overall air quality. When operating correctly, your system should significantly improve the quality of your home's air. As air passes through your return vents, the filter in your air handler unit removes tiny particles of dust, pollen, and even smaller contaminants, such as viruses.

While the filter improves your home's air, it also poses a problem. Since your HVAC system cycles air through your home, it would also distribute contaminants to any room with a vent if the filter was not present. This design means that problems with your air conditioner can lead to a noticeable drop in air quality throughout your house.

The Source of HVAC Odors

You'll need to understand a bit about the design of your HVAC system to understand the potential sources of air conditioning odors. A blower pulls air through one or more return ducts to an air handling unit in most residential systems. This warm air moves through the air handler's filter before being cooled by the evaporator coils and distributed to each room with a supply vent.

This typical design means that most odors originate in one of three locations: the filter itself, the evaporator coil, or the supply ducts. In some cases, the problem may have multiple sources. You'll need to determine where the odors emanate from to understand the severity of the problem and the actions you'll need to take to address it.

Resolving Common Odor Issues

If the source of the odor is an old filter, then you're in luck! You should replace your filter on a regular schedule to keep your system running smoothly. Replacing an old, dirty filter should drastically improve your home's air quality, while also helping your air conditioner to run more smoothly and efficiently. Keeping up with this routine maintenance procedure will help you avoid more severe odor problems.

Odors that originate with the evaporator coils or your supply ducts will usually require professional assistance. In most cases, these odors appear because of excess moisture in the system. Too much moisture may mean that your system is short cycling or the blower isn't functioning correctly. In either case, an HVAC technician can help you to determine and repair the underlying issue.

For more information, contact an air conditioning repair company in your area.