Why Does Your Air Conditioner Smell?

Why does your Air Conditioner Smell?

This is a pretty common problem and after 15+ years of inspecting and cleaning over 100,000 air conditioners, Sanitair has identified nearly every issue that can lead to a bad smelling air conditioner.

History has shown us that the source of air conditioning odours come from one of four main categories or combination.

  1. Micro Biological
  2. Drainage
  3. Rodents & Pests
  4. Environmental

Microbiological odours are caused by bacterial growth and fungal growth such as mould. As mould grows it emits Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOCs). Many MVOC’S do not have a smell whilst others give off a pungent musty odour. This odour is a pretty good indicator that your air conditioner has a microbiological contamination and that means you are inhaling compounds produced by the mould and are probably also inhaling mould spores. Some of those compounds are called mycotoxins and can affect human health.

Some of the symptom that room occupants can suffer from air conditioning mould is difficulty breathing, asthma attacks, itchy eyes, sinus infections, sore throat, joint pain, bronchitis, pneumonia and migraines.

A Sanitair Premium AirCon Clean will safely remove all biological contaminants and restore your system like new, your coil is also covered by our nationwide 12 Month Mould Free Guarantee.  Sanitair have trained technicians located in every state and territory of Australia and can be contacted on Free Call: 1800 130 168

Drainage part of an air conditioners normal operation is to produce condensation on the evaporator coils. On a typical indoor split system, the condensation is produced on the aluminium coils behind the filters. The condensation runs down the individual fins on the coil and is captured in the condensate pan which is generally connected to the condensate drain line to keep the pan drained. Many systems are free-flowing and this can be seen by an open pipe that drips externally and is often located close to the outdoor unit.

This method is not best practice as the constant moisture can attract the interest of termites. Best practice ensures that condensate lines are plumbed into stormwater or suitable drains. Unfortunately, air conditioning units can sometimes draw odours from external sources such as a blocked or contaminated stormwater line. We once had a customer that had a horrible smell in their home to find after inspection her husband had plumbed their air conditioning condensate line into the sewerage line.

Blocked and poorly draining condensate pans can accumulate bio films, toxic slime and sludge that can also omit unpleasant odours. A Sanitair premium clean on your air conditioner will also ensure that your condensate pan and drain is clean and free flowing.

Rodents and Pests these odours are pretty offensive and easily identified. Smells like something has crawled into the air conditioning system and died. Mice, Rats, Geckos, Bats, Snakes we have seen it all over the years. Gaining access from inside the wall cavity or from poorly sealed pipework, small animals often become trapped and sometimes electrocuted leading to their demise and that lingering smell. The good thing is generally the smell will disappear after a few days as the animal decomposes. If the smell is really offensive you could contact your local qualified refrigeration mechanic who is licenced to safely dismantle your unit and physically remove the offender.

Environmental factors such as having an air conditioner located close by or in a kitchen will always experience odour issues from time to time depending on what’s on the menu. Running air conditioners close to kitchens is not recommended. Evaporators are basically bi efficient filters and do a good job of removing grease and other bulk contaminants. Add moisture and cooking smells and you get a perfect smelly compound that lingers every time your system is operated.

If you burn incense, candles or use essential oils in a diffuser these can all add to a pungent smell over time that can be difficult to remove. Massage therapy rooms often experience these funky smells which are a bi-product of an oil that once smelt non-offensive before being burnt or heated.

Other external and environmental factors can be things like rising damp issues in walls and carpets which can be drawn in a recirculated by your air conditioning unit contaminating it and falsely getting it accused for the odour.

Hopefully, this article will assist you in locating the source of your air conditioning smell and lead to a better smelling and healthier air conditioner.

© Craig Jefferies 2019 Sanitair Australia