Problems With Central Air Conditioner Smells

Written by michael davidson
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Problems With Central Air Conditioner Smells
Central air systems sometimes develop odour problems. (impianto industria image by Fotograv from

Central air conditioners are convenient and usually more cost effective than their wall-unit counterparts. Air conditioners keep a home or office temperate during times of extreme outside heat, and they also effectively reduce the humidity in the air to make it feel cooler than the more humid air outside. Central air systems do present some disadvantages since they sometimes develop odours that are problematic over time.

Mold Buildup

Air conditioning systems deal with a lot of air moisture, which sometimes results in mould growing inside the air ducts. As the mould intensifies, the blowing air propels mould spores out of the ducts and into the building, resulting in a foul mouldy smell that spreads throughout the home or office. Mold is sometimes hazardous as well since some moulds cause severe respiratory problems when inhaled. Some moulds even cause permanent lung damage. It most frequently grows on the air conditioning coils and its fibreglass lining since that generally collects the most dust, which the mould spores use as a nutrient source.

Dead Animal

The air ducts of a central air conditioner are sometimes compromised of a squirrel, rat or other creature that gets inside. Since there is no source of food inside the ducts for animals to feast on, they frequently starve to death and their bodies start to decompose. Rotting flesh is an easily distinguishable and foul smell that takes time to air out even after the offending animal carcase is removed. The scent of dead animal also attracts flies and other insects and can lead to infestation, so remove the animal from the ducts as soon as possible.

Coolant Leak

Air conditioning units sometimes have malfunctions that result in coolant leaks. The coolant often has a musty scent that is subtle but still unpleasant. The possible dangers of these leaks depend on the type of coolant your air conditioning system uses. Freon is not in wide circulation anymore, and any current system should not use it. However, freon and other coolant gases can cause irregular heartbeats upon initial exposure, which is hazardous to anyone with pre-existing heart conditions. While not overly hazardous beyond that, inspect coolant leaks detected by smell, and repair them immediately.

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