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What Is That Terrible Odor? 3 Common Smells That Can Come From HVAC System

Your trusted HVAC system is there for you, no matter what the season. However, over the last few days you've been noticing a strange odor every time the system kicks on, and you're not sure if it's a major problem or a minor inconvenience. Often, the smell can become very noticeable and even impossible to live with because most homes are so well-constructed, sealed, and insulated. Here are three common smells that emit from your HVAC system, the cause of each, and what you need to do to correct the problem.

A Rotten Egg Smell

If you detect the odor of rotten eggs or sulfur, there are two possible explanations. The first is a gas leak. Natural gas is odorless, and the provider places a substance in the gas that will allow you detect a leak. If you notice a strong smell of sulfur, it is critical for you and your family members to vacate your home immediately. Once you are safely away, contact the natural gas provider. If necessary, the gas company will evacuate your neighborhood while they search for the source of the gas leak.
The second reason why you might notice a rotten egg or skunk-like smell coming from your HVAC unit is a dead animal. If the natural gas company determines there is no gas leak, chances are the culprit is an animal who has crawled into your ductwork and died. The best way to determine if there is a deceased animal in your ductwork is to contact a professional HVAC technician. The technician can examine the ductwork, determine the location of the animal, and eliminate the odor.

A Burning Odor

Another common odor you may notice coming from your HVAC system is a burning smell. It's not uncommon for a slight burning odor to occur when you switch on your HVAC system. The smell is caused by dust and debris that has collected inside the ducts.
However, if the smell doesn't go away within several minutes, it's time to look for another culprit. Often, the smell is coming from a worn air filter. Examine the filter on the air conditioner condenser, which is found outdoors, and the furnace inside of your home. If the filters are worn or very dirty, clean or replace them.
If you clean or replace your air filters and there is still a noticeable burning smell, don't hesitate to contact a professional. Sometimes, your ductwork can become extremely clogged with dirt, debris, pet hair, and other substances. In cases like this, you will need to have the ductwork professionally cleaned.

Mold and Mildew

Finally, if you're running your air conditioner and notice a musty smell, chances are there is mold growing somewhere inside your HVAC unit. Air conditioners have two jobs: they cool your home, and they also remove any excess moisture in the air. If your air conditioner is malfunctioning, or the filter is clogged, the moisture that is drawn from the air inside your home will not be drained properly.
If you notice a musty smell coming from your air conditioning unit, contact a professional HVAC technician right away. The technician will examine the various components of your unit, including the filter and outdoor condenser unit to determine the cause of the musty odors. Unfortunately, sometimes the issue can be serious, and if there is a severe mold, mildew, or fungus issue, you may need to have your unit thoroughly cleaned or certain parts replaced.
From a burning smell to an odor that resembles rotten eggs, there are several odors that can come from your HVAC unit. Don't let these unusual odors invade your home and instead contact the professionals at Capitol Service Company.