When your central air conditioner is running does the air smell musty or sour? There are a few things you can check to track down the cause. An air conditioner lowers the temperature in your home by blowing warm air over coils that contain refrigerant. This both reduces the temperature of the air and removes moisture from the air through condensation. This condensation drips off the coil and collects in a condensate pan where it then flows down the drain.
Clogged Condensate Drain Pan
The condensate pan is located inside the air handler right under the refrigerant coils.
When dirt and debris collect in the pan it can clog the drain hole, causing mold and mildew to grow – resulting in an unpleasant musty smell.
If the drain is clogged, use a piece of wire to clean out the drain opening. If there are signs of mold or mildew, wipe the pan clean with a sponge and water containing diluted chlorine bleach.
Air Duct Contamination
If humidity reaches high enough levels it can cause the dirt inside air ducts to become damp, which can cause mold growth. Mold in the air ducts can be blown throughout your home, creating odors and a health hazard. If you notice excessive dirt or mold inside your air ducts, or notice musty smells coming around the air registers, your ventilation system could be harboring mold. The air ducts should be professionally cleaned and disinfected.
Dirty Furnace Air Filter
An excessively dirty air filter will limit the amount of air that cycles through the system, creating an increase in humidity and dampness in the ventilation system, which in turn creates an ideal environment for mold to grow. Replace your furnace air filter monthly, or at the interval recommended by the filter manufacturer.
If your central air conditioner is causing strange smells in your home, call Superior Plumbing and Heating, we can inspect your AC and duct system to ensure that it is operating safely and reliably.