What To Do If Your Air Conditioner Smells Bad

A reliable air conditioner is an unbeatable source of relief and comfort during the scorching summer months. Every homeowner knows an efficient air conditioning system that runs smoothly is instrumental in making a house a comfortable home for its occupants during the hottest season of the year.

But when a problem with your air conditioner arises, it can be a real headache that will most likely require some serious DIY or, in the worst scenarios, the help of a professional. As a homeowner, one of the more common problems you probably encounter (particularly during the summer) does not know what to do if your air conditioner smells bad.

There are several causes why your air conditioner is emitting a foul odour, or what is sometimes called the “Dirty Sock Syndrome”. The information below can help you determine what to do if your air conditioner smells bad and how to prevent it in the future.

What Causes “Dirty Sock Syndrome”?

There are two common causes of the foul odour emitted by air conditioners:

  1. Mould or Mildew Growth on Your Air Conditioner’s Evaporator Coils

Besides the foul-smelling odour, if you notice that your air conditioner is releasing weaker airflow than usual, there might be a buildup of mould, mildew, or bacteria in your unit’s evaporator coils.

The growth of mould, mildew and other bacteria takes place when condensation happens in the evaporator coils due to the warm air that passes through them. The dust and dirt that can be found within the coils then transform into breeding grounds for fungus and bacteria that can emit a foul smell.

Other indications that your evaporator coil is dirty and clogged include the formation of ice on the coils and the visible buildup of mould or mildew.

What to Do if Your Air Conditioner Smells Bad Due to Mould and Mildew

You’ll need to hire an air conditioning repair professional to clean out your evaporator coils, as this will require disassembly of certain parts of your air conditioner.

If you feel confident in disassembling your air conditioner yourself, you can clean its evaporator coils by removing any visible debris, dirt and moisture with a rag and using a vacuum. Afterwards, use a spray coil cleaner (be sure to follow the direction on the label before use) to ensure any remaining mould and mildew are thoroughly removed.

  1. Bacteria and Mould Growth on Your Air Conditioner’s Condensate Line

A clogged condensate line means the stagnant water provides the ideal conditions for mould and bacteria growth. Some indications of a clogged condensate line include water leaking out of the indoor unit and your air conditioner turning off on its own. The latter is due to a built-in safety switch that automatically shuts off the unit when there is a problem.

What to do if Your Air Conditioner Smells Bad Due to Mold and Bacteria Growth in a Clogged Condensate Line

You can easily unclog your air conditioner’s condensate line by locating the main drain of your unit and using a vacuum to clean it out. Otherwise, schedule a clean-up with an air conditioner technician.

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