10 Reasons Why AirCons Smell

10 Reasons Why Air Conditioners Smell?

In Australia we can be exposed to extreme heat and freezing temperatures outside due to the vastness of our country. We retreat indoors to the sanctuary of our air-conditioned homes and offices. Ah, the sweet relief of cool or heated conditioned air. But wait – what's that smell? An unpleasant odour emanating from your air conditioner can quickly ruin the comfort you seek. But fear not, for understanding the source of these odours is the first step toward banishing them from your space.

  1. Accumulated Dirt & Dust:

    One of the most common culprits behind foul-smelling air conditioners is the buildup of dust and dirt within the system. Over time, dust particles can settle on the various components of your AC unit, including the evaporator coils and air filters. As the air circulates through the system, these particles can be carried along with it, releasing musty odours into your living space.

  2. Mould & Bacteria:

    Another common cause of unpleasant odours is the growth of mould and other odour causing bacteria’s that grow within the moist and dark components of your air conditioner. These fungi and bacteria thrive in environments with high humidity, making the interior of your AC unit an ideal breeding ground. If left unchecked, mould and pathogens can not only produce foul odours resembling wet socks but can also pose serious health risks to you and your family.

  3. Blocked Drain Lines:

    Your air conditioner's drain lines are responsible for removing excess moisture from the system. However, if these lines become clogged with debris, algae growth or deceased pests then water can accumulate and stagnate, leading to the development of foul odours. Sanitair have been called out to investigate foul odours to find that the condensate lines have even been incorrectly plumbed to sewerage lines resulting in highly offensive odours being pulled directly from the lines and distributed into the room spaces. Regular maintenance and inspection, including cleaning and flushing the drain lines, is essential for preventing this issue.

  4. Dirty or Clogged Filters:

    Air filters play a crucial role in trapping dust, pollen, human DND, pet dander and other airborne particles, preventing them from entering your living space. However, if these filters become dirty or clogged, they can no longer effectively capture these particles, leading to a buildup of contaminants within the evaporator coils. As a result, you may notice unpleasant odours emanating from your air conditioner as microorganisms start to breed and colonise.
  5. Stagnant Water in Condensate Pans:

    The drip pan located under your air conditioner evaporator coils is designed to collect condensate and prevent it from leaking onto your floors. However, if this pan becomes filled with stagnant water due to improper drainage or a malfunctioning pump, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria and bio films. As these microorganisms proliferate, they can produce foul odours that are distributed throughout your home or office. Using toxic chemicals in pans can make the problem worse. Condensate pans need to be inspected and treated non-toxic, non-caustic product to ensure they run freely and most important do not upset the ecology which can lead to bigger problems.

  6. Contaminated Scroll/Blower Fan: 

    Contaminated air conditioning fans can be a significant source of odours within HVAC systems. These fans are constantly subjected to a variety of contaminants carried by the airflow they generate. Dust, dirt, grease and other particulate matter accumulate on fan blades and surfaces, providing an ideal environment for the growth of biological organisms such as mould and odour-causing bacteria. Regular cleaning and maintenance of fans are essential to prevent the buildup of these contaminants. It's recommended to enlist the services of a professional technician equipped with the appropriate tools and expertise for thorough cleaning. Attempting to clean fans without proper training and equipment can lead to damage and an expensive repair bill. Therefore, it's prudent to rely on trained professionals for this task to ensure optimal performance and indoor air quality.

  7.  Animals, Pests & Rodents:

    Small animals, pests and rodents can introduce offensive odours into air conditioning systems, particularly when they become trapped and perish within the system's components. Sanitair technicians often encounter deceased geckos, rats, mice, snakes, lizards, frogs and even bats within these systems. As these creatures decompose, they emit unpleasant odours that can linger until the decomposition process is complete, typically lasting a week or two, depending on the size of the intruder. If the decomposition occurs within a drain line or pan, where moisture is present, the problem may persist longer due to the added humidity, potentially in addition leading to a leaking air conditioner. Addressing the presence of the decomposing critter promptly and sanitising the air conditioner is crucial to restoring normal air quality. By doing so, the offensive odours can be eliminated, ensuring a fresh and comfortable indoor environment once again while preventing potential damage to the system.
  8.  Cooking Odours:

    Running an air conditioner near a kitchen during cooking can inadvertently lead to the dissemination of odours due to the system's airflow dynamics. As the air conditioner operates, it pulls air from the surrounding environment, including any cooking odours lingering in the kitchen. Particularly, oils and grease from frying or sautéing can be drawn into the system, coating the ducts and filters with their pungent scent. Additionally, airborne particles such as flour and spices, which are commonly used in cooking, can also be circulated through the air conditioner, contributing to the odour issue. Over time, these residues can accumulate within the air conditioning system, exacerbating the problem and potentially impacting indoor air quality. It is therefore advisable not to operate air conditioners that are located near kitchens when cooking to mitigate the spread of odours and maintain a fresh indoor environment.

  9. Burning Incense & Scented Candles:

    Burning incense and scented candles may initially provide a pleasant aroma to a room, but their use can lead to unintended consequences when paired with air conditioning systems. As these items burn, they release oils and other aromatic compounds into the air, which can be drawn into nearby air conditioners. Over time, these oils can coat the internal components of the system, including the evaporator coils. This coating can then trap airborne contaminants like dirt, dust & carbon, creating a buildup of residues within the system. As a result, the air conditioner may emit stale or unusual odours as it operates, detracting from the indoor air quality. To avoid this issue, it is advisable to refrain from operating air conditioners while burning incense, scented candles, or using room diffusers, thus preventing the accumulation of residues and maintaining a fresher indoor environment.

  10. Spraying Non Specific Products into Air conditioners:

    Spraying non-specific products into air conditioners, whether to mask odours or for perceived hygiene purposes, can lead to a host of issues and potential hazards. Despite good intentions, using household cleaners, bleaches, essential oils like tea tree, perfumes, deodorants, and other unspecified industry products can exacerbate problems rather than solve them. Over Sanitair’s 20 years in the industry, we've witnessed the detrimental effects of such practices. These products can contribute to the formation of pungent odours and buildup of contaminants within the air conditioning system, diminishing its efficiency over time. Moreover, some of these products may disrupt the delicate balance of the evaporator's ecology, leading to more significant issues down the line. Additionally, the application of toxic substances poses risks to the health and safety of room occupants. It's crucial to only use industry specific products together with recommended cleaning procedures to ensure optimal performance, indoor air quality and to protect the health of room occupants.

In conclusion,

Foul odours emanating from your air conditioner are often indicative of underlying issues such as dust and dirt buildup, mould and bacterial growth, or a clogged condensate drain pan or line. By understanding potentially bad practices that can also lead to the causes of these odours and taking proactive steps to address them, you can ensure that your air conditioning system continues to provide clean, comfortable air for you and your family to enjoy.

If you are not confident you can always contact a professional air conditioning cleaning and sanitising company like Sanitair who guarantee their work.


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