Summit Heating & A/C provides peace of mind to homeowners in Denver and the surrounding communities in Colorado. No job is too small or too large for our team of heating, air conditioning, and indoor air quality experts. A troublesome issue that perplexes many of our customers is an unusual smell coming from the air conditioning system. The smells may develop when the unit is first turned on during the summer or appear randomly over the course of the season. Here are some tips for how to troubleshoot smells from your AC unit.
1. Shut Off the Unit
The first thing that you should do is shut off the cooling system. Some smells are caused by serious issues, while others are simply pesky little odors. If the odor has a dry, dusty character, it is most likely dirt that has gathered on the outside unit over the winter. You can rinse off the unit with a garden hose set on low pressure. Go back inside, and power on the system. If the odor is gone, you have fixed the problem. Burning and rotten egg smells are a bit more serious, so you should leave the unit off until the issue is repaired.
2. Call the Gas Company
Natural gas on its own does not have an odor, so gas companies are required to add a substance that causes a very distinctive aroma. It smells like rotten eggs or sulfur. If this is what you smell, call the gas company. The natural gas may not be leaking from your AC system, but it may be leaking from your water heater, oven, or other appliance. It is also possible that your neighbor has a natural gas leak, so you should notify them of the problem. The gas company will send over a technician to inspect your home and surrounding structures for any leaks.
3. Check Outside
Odors can come from the outdoor air and filter through your AC system. If you notice a smell similar to wood or paper burning, check outside. See if your neighbor is using a BBQ grill, or there may be a fire in a nearby structure or tract of forest, grasses, or trees. If the odor is stronger outside, call 911 to have the fire department come to address the issue. Another odor that can be caused by something outside is the aroma of putrid trash. Check to make sure that there is nothing around your AC unit.
4. Look for Pests
Pests love to build nests inside HVAC equipment and ducts. Sometimes they just want a warm place to sleep or they have young babies. Unfortunately, pests can get trapped inside the equipment and die. This is another reason why you may have an odor of rotten eggs in your home when the AC is running.
5. Check the Ducts
The ducts of your AC system can get damaged. You may have a tear in the aluminum walls, broken connections, or sections that are rusted. Dead animals, mold, mildew, debris, and even trash can get stuck inside the ducts. These types of messes release chemicals into the air that is distributed through your home. One way to see if you may have a problem inside the ducts is to check every room of your home. If the aroma is present throughout your home, chances are that something is inside your ducts.
6. Inspect Drains and Tubes
A moldy smell is most often caused by standing water. The most likely source includes the drain tubes and pan on the outside unit. Inspect the equipment to see if you notice any dripping water. You should also check the ground and walls around the equipment. It is possible that water running from your roof is collecting inside the AC unit and providing mold and mildew with an ideal environment to thrive. If the drain pan is full, you can empty it and clean it with a disinfectant. Start your AC system, and see if the smell is gone.
7. Clean Around the Unit
A common habit that we see with homeowners in the Denver area is placing recycling and garbage bins next to or near the outdoor AC unit. Just remember that what smells waft from these containers can be drawn into your air conditioning system and distributed throughout your home. It is best to store the bins far away from your HVAC equipment, such as in a garage or corner of your backyard. If this is the source of the smell, it will dissipate on its own once the containers are moved. Also, be sure to avoid storing wet towels and other items near the unit. This will not only prevent smells but also prevent damage to the unit.
8. Clear Intake Vents
The intake vents of your HVAC system draw in air and return it to the main unit for heating and cooling. Blocking the vents makes your AC system work harder, and this costs you money in utilities. Some items, such as dog beds, laundry baskets, and trash bags release smells into the air as it is pulled through the vents. You should keep at least one to three feet of space open in front of the intake vents.
9. Install IAQ Products
If you have an extra sensitive nose, any smell in your home can feel intrusive and unpleasant. Summit Heating & A/C offers a range of indoor air quality products to keep your nose happy. Many of these units can be installed in your ducts for whole-home air purification. Not only will they eliminate odors, but they can also remove bacteria, dust, pollen, viruses, pet dander, and other airborne particles. We can also recommend upgrades to your HVAC filters to trap even the smallest particles. Poor indoor air quality has been linked to allergies, chronic conditions, and so much more! IAQ products are an investment in your health and comfort.
10. Schedule AC Maintenance
When problems arise with your cooling system during the summer, you most likely only look for ways to make the necessary repairs. AC maintenance from the professionals at Summit Heating & A/C can actually prevent odors, malfunctions, and high utility costs in the warm summer months. Our technicians perform a full inspection in the spring before you need AC. We change out the filters, check the ducts, and let you know about any repairs that should be done. Although AC maintenance is recommended in the spring, we can perform this service anytime this summer. You can also schedule a maintenance appointment for your heating system in the fall to have even greater peace of mind.
AC Installation, Repairs, and Maintenance
No matter what you need to keep your family safe and comfortable this summer, the team at Summit Heating & A/C is always here to help. We offer installation, repairs, and maintenance for all makes and models, including emergency repairs. Since 1998, Denver homeowners have trusted us with their HVAC needs, so you can feel confident about choosing us. Call us today, and be sure to ask about our water heater services.