Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell


July 15, 2019

When it comes to air conditioning, we all expect our treated air to smell a certain way. It’s that crisp cool scent that’s not unlike spending an afternoon in the mountains. But if you come home and the smell is “unexpected,” then you might be having an issue with your air conditioning. As Seguin’s leading choice for AC services, we’ve addressed more than our fair share of strange problems with air conditioning units. While a smelly air conditioner may be unpleasant, you can actually use the scents as a guide to figure out what issue your unit might be facing. Let’s outline some of the scents you might be smelling and what they mean for your air conditioner.

Your Treated Air Smells like Dirty Socks

There are only a few places in life where we tolerate the smell of dirty socks, and that’s largely limited to the gym. Foot funk is its own particular brand of nasty and nobody wants to smell that in their home. If you power on your conditioner and your home suddenly smells like a high school locker room, you might be experiencing one of three problems with your air conditioner.

First, it could be mold or mildew on your evaporator coils. When warm air moves across the cold coils in your AC, water condenses on the coils. For the dirt and dust that settles on these coils, the extra water makes it an ideal climate for the growth of mold and bacteria. The signs of this issue are obvious, as you’ll see mold buildup of the coils, ice developing on them, or you’ll experience reduced airflow through the unit. The fix is simple as well — just have one of our specialists clean your evaporator coils.

The other reason your treated air smells like feet could be that you have mold growing in your ductwork. Mold can be caused by leaks in your air ducts, high levels of indoor humidity, or mold that has spread from another source. The only way to make sure is to inspect the interior ducts. While this is something you can do on your own, it’s far easier if you trust a professional to do it for you. Using special equipment, they’ll be able to inspect the parts of the ductwork that you cannot access. Additionally, they’ll trace the source of the mold growth and will clean both the source and your ducts thoroughly to solve the issue.

Finally, your condensate drain lines could be clogged. These lines are designed to drain away the condensation that comes off your evaporator coils. But with time and use, the system can become clogged and lead to standing water that is a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. If you have a clogged condensate drain line, you’ll notice signs like water leaking around your indoor AC unit, or your AC will shut off in response to the drain pan overflowing. Lucky for you, this is a fairly simple fix for one of our service technicians.

Your Treated Air Smells Like Rotten Eggs

Unless you’re visiting the natural hot springs at Big Bend National Park, the sulfuric smell of rotten eggs is not something you want to regularly expose yourself to. Unfortunately, the source of the smell is often unpleasant and even tragic in some cases. This rotten egg smell is a very good sign you either have a pest problem in your ducts or an animal has died in them.

You can tell if you have a pest problem or dead animal in your ducts by looking for the following traces. You might notice that the smell grows stronger when you move closer to your vents. In some cases, you’ll hear the scurrying of tiny feet in your walls or near ducts. And finally, you could find droppings, hair, or debris inside or near your ductwork. In these circumstances, you’ll need to hire a tag team of professionals. First, call a local pest control service near you to inspect your ductwork and remove the pests or dead animal, then call us to thoroughly clean your ductwork and repair any damage.


Take a deep breath and enjoy the freshly treated air in your home every time you turn on your air conditioner by trusting Legacy Services Air Conditioning and Heating to care for your home in Seguin. Call us today and ask about getting your free estimate.

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