Are you wondering, ‘Why is my new air conditioner producing odor?’ The truth is, there are a number of odors a new unit might produce.
It is even possible to diagnose AC problems by the smell they give off sometimes. So, we put together a guide that goes over some essential information if your new air conditioning system smells bad.
We also answer questions like:
- What causes an air conditioner to create different odors?
- What can you do to eliminate malodors from the air conditioner?
- When should you worry about a smell emitted by your new A/C unit?
- What are the most common smells produced by new HVAC systems?
- And more!
It is highly disappointing when you purchase a new air conditioner only to have a funny smell enter your home. Some smells might point to major issues like an electrical malfunction or gas leak.
Others are less concerning, but over time they can affect your health and the life of your unit. So, it is crucial to pay attention to AC smells that are out of the ordinary.
Keep reading to find out what could be causing the smell coming from your air conditioner.
What's In This Guide?
When Should A Bad Smell Produce By Your New Air Conditioner Concern You?
New air conditioners often have funny smells. So, how do you know when a bad odor should concern you? Here are some of the most common reasons for a strange scent when you turn on your new air conditioner.
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Your Air Conditioner Smells Like A Dirty Sock
If your air conditioner smells like dirty socks, it could be caused by fungus and bacteria on your evaporator coils. The smell may also be accompanied by symptoms that are referred to as “air conditioner sickness.”
Regardless of the age of your unit, if you notice any of the symptoms below, it may be time to take action:
- Dry Skin
- Respiratory Illness
- High Blood Pressure
- Sore Throat
- Chest Pain
- Difficulty Breathing
The same bacteria that cause the foul sock smell causes air conditioner sickness. So, you should call a professional air conditioning repair company to assess the problem.
A Moldy Smell Or Musty Scent
If you have not had a central air conditioner for a while, there is a possibility that one of the components in your system is moldy. Due to excessive humidity in a home without air conditioning, mold and mildew can grow quickly.
You may find mold or mildew in the air ducts, too. When the air ducts become filled with unhealthy mold and mildew, it can come out when you turn on your new unit.
So, if you think you think your unit is moldy, you need to address it promptly. Cleaning your unit may resolve the issue, but you might also need the assistance of a professional HVAC cleaning service.
A Fishy Smell
Wiring issues can cause a strange fishy smell. It is a mildly offensive smell so that it may go unnoticed at first.
If you smell something like this, you should shut the unit off and call an electrician or HVAC repair contractor. If you are running a portable or window unit, they pull a lot of power and when you leave them running continuously, the heat can melt the wiring, circuit boards, and outlets.
Burning or melting wiring causes the smell, and if you live in an older home, your electrical system may not be able to power your new system.
Sometimes, air conditioning repair professionals miss wiring problems, as they are not trained electricians. So, if you an air conditioner repair technician tells you there is nothing wrong with your air conditioner, it might be time to call an electrician.
If there are any electrical components that need to be replaced. You should also be mindful when you plug and unplug a portable air conditioner or window unit in.
If you cause the outlet to loosen, the wires can touch causing them to spark, which could short your device or cause a house fire. Do not get surprised if your HVAC technician tells you that you need an electrician.
A Burning Smell
If you smell a burning odor, it is also a good idea to have your air conditioner checked by a professional. However, sometimes new systems do have a funny smell.
It is not uncommon for heaters to give off a burning smell when you use them for the first time each year. If you smell a burning smell, you might have the thermostat set to heat instead of cool.
There could also be an electrical problem like an overheating fan motor. Anytime you smell something burning, you need to identify the source. If your home is on fire, go outside and call the fire department.
Your home’s ductwork is a system of vents, an evaporator coil, condenser coil, a condensate pan, drain line, air handler, and several other essential components that make up your central air conditioning system. If any of those components are dirty, it could cause the system to produce an unpleasant smell.
Many homeowners use the same ductwork when they purchase a new air conditioning unit. If you have dust, debris, bacteria, and fungus growing in your air ducts, your air conditioner may smell funny.
A dead animal that has fallen into an air duct could cause a horrible odor to come out of your vents. Luckily, there are plenty of qualified professional duct cleaning services that can help.
A sewer smell could be caused by a sewer line issue. Typically, a sewer-like smell is not associated with air conditioning systems.
A plumber may be the correct person to call if you notice a sewage smell after turning your air conditioner on.
What Causes ‘Dirty Sock Syndrome’ and ‘Air Conditioner Sickness’?
If your air conditioner was not used for a while, fungus and bacteria can develop in the indoor air handler, air filter, air ducts, and other parts of your air conditioner. The buildup of bacteria creates a musty smell and it can even cause you to become physically sick.
HVAC contractors are aware of this phenomenon because it is one of the most common reasons for a foul smell coming from your air conditioner. It is also one of the most concerning because even after you have your air conditioner professionally cleaned, you may have symptoms for some time.
Your indoor air quality is important because you spend the majority of your time in your home. If the quality of the air in your home is low, it can overload your immune system.
Your body is constantly fighting off an infection if it is left vulnerable. So, if your air conditioner smells bad, you need to take it seriously.
For more information on ‘dirty sock syndrome,’ take a look at this video about a couple who suffered from the condition.
What Should You Do If Your New Air Conditioner Is Producing An Odor?
Any odor coming from your air conditioner that is out of the ordinary is a signal that something is not right. Due to the complex nature of HVAC systems, pinpointing the exact source of the smell might not be easy.
You should reach out to the HVAC service company that installed your new air conditioner. They are aware of the most and least common reasons for smells produced by air conditioners.
It is also helpful to invest in a home warranty plan that can help cover AC repairs, like refrigerant leaks or condensate drain clogs, or major system replacements if necessary. Many home warranty plans also include free or discounted semi-annual maintenance.
By having regular tune-ups on your HVAC system, you can avoid many odors before they can affect your health or air conditioning system negatively.