Why Does My Air Con Smell?

All air conditioning units require a little maintenance from time to time to keep them in good working order. Regular air conditioning maintenance and thorough cleaning regimes are vital to prolong the life of the parts that make an air conditioning system work. Keeping up with these jobs will also help to maximise the efficiency of an air conditioning system, to keep running costs as low as possible.

It’s all too easy to overlook cleaning and other maintenance jobs when your air conditioning system is running as it should, but if you do this too often your air con may well let you know about it. You might notice that it doesn’t cool down a room as quickly as it once did, it may start to make strange noises as it starts up and if you’re very unlucky it could even start to smell. 

If you’ve noticed an odd smell coming from your air conditioning, it’s likely down to a maintenance or cleaning job that’s been left for far too long. Read on and we’ll take you through some of the key reasons why air conditioning units can start to emit strange odours, and what you can do to keep your air con smelling sweet. 

Top causes of bad odours from air conditioning units? 

The strange, unpleasant smells that can originate from unclean air conditioning units are caused by a number of different things, ranging from a buildup of mould and mildew to electric faults and water leaks. 

Here are a few of the most common causes of bad odours from air con units, and some telltale signs to keep an eye out for. 

Mould and mildew 

A common culprit of smelly air con units is mould. The strong, distinctive smell of mould is immediately noticeable, and unfortunately it can plague the inside of air conditioning units all too easily. 

The damp, humid conditions that are often found inside air conditioning units make them the perfect environment for mould to grow, and that’s why you’ll often find a build-up of mould and mildew when you take the unit apart for cleaning. 

Mould will often accumulate in filters and within the evaporator coils, so look out for any buildup here and make sure they’re cleaned out regularly. If mould is left to grow in these spots you’ll soon start to notice a stale smell every time you switch your air con on. 

Damp smells 

Water leaks are another possible cause of bad odours coming from air conditioning units. 

If a unit is leaking, you may well notice a musty smell which will be stronger the nearer you get to the leak itself. This is a sign of a fault in your air conditioning, such as clogged air filters or a damaged condensation pump. 

Usually, a water leak will require the attention of a qualified engineer, who will be able to find the source of the leak and fix any relevant parts. If you notice a smell of damp that gets worse when your air con is on, get in touch with an engineer as soon as possible. 

A smell of burning 

The unmistakable scent of an electrical fault can sometimes cause bad odours from air conditioning units, but if this happens to your air con you’ll definitely know about it. 

A smell of burning will immediately alert homeowners to electrical problems, and this too is something we’d always recommend is investigated by a professional. 

If you do notice a burning smell coming from your air con, switch it off straight away and get in touch with an engineer as a matter of urgency. 

How to solve air con odour problems 

A bad odour coming from your air conditioning unit is usually just a sign that something is wrong with the unit, and that it needs a little attention from an engineer. 

Some issues, such as a buildup of mould or mildew, can be remedied fairly easily. Others, like electrical faults, might require more extensive repairs to remove the cause of the unpleasant smell. 

A few of the problems we’ve mentioned are unavoidable and will affect all units from time to time, but there are steps that you can take to prolong the life of your system and keep those bad smells at bay for a little longer. 

Here’s what our engineers recommend. 

Regular servicing 

During those toasty summer months you’ll come to rely on your aircon to keep your home cool, so it pays to keep up with servicing to ensure that it won’t let you down. 

We suggest booking an annual service for your air conditioning system, at a time when you’re unlikely to be using it. 

If you make sure that your system is in good working order before outside temperatures start to rise, you won’t find yourself faced with an unpleasant smell that needs investigating as soon as you switch your aircon on at the start of summer.

A good cleaning regime 

A buildup of mould and mildew is one of the most common causes for a bad smell coming from air conditioning units, and it’s also one of the easiest problems to avoid. Keep on top of your servicing schedule and an engineer will ensure your air conditioning system is clean as a whistle. 

During services, engineers routinely clean away any mould that might have accumulated while the system was switched off, so you’ll never get to the point where there’s so much mould and mildew in the system that your air con starts pumping out bad odours whenever it’s switched on. 

Things to Remember if Your Air Con Starts Smelling

If you’re noticing a smell coming from your AC unit and suspect something might be wrong, remember these points!

Covering up any bad odours with air fresheners may take the edge off in the short term, but could lead to more damage in the long-term. After all, delayed repairs often mean further costs down the line if issues become worse. 

Secondly, if you think your air con is broken and needs to be repaired, it’s ultimately best not to attempt it yourself! Taking on repairs without the proper knowledge and training could risk further damage to the unit and the associated gas lines (and a voided warranty as a result). 

AC units are made up of high-voltage electrical systems and multiple components, some of which remain live even if the system is off. Tinkering with these could result in a complete short circuit or even injury to yourself and others – this is why we always advise you to call in a professional. Our engineers are specialists who have the training and equipment to carry out repairs as quickly as possible. 

Get in touch with a member of our team and we’ll arrange a time to come and investigate the problem for you. A member of our servicing team will find the source of any bad odours, and advise you on how best to resolve the issue. Give us a call to find out more.