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Air Conditioning, air conditioner smells, air conditioner smells like paint thinner, air vent smells musty, why does my ac stink

Miller’s Heating & Air is the local Vancouver, WA and North Portland, OR HVAC expert with over 70 years experience. We specialize in all things residential heating and cooling. Our newest home care plan called Clean, Seal & Protect is a MUST for all residential HVAC systems to improve efficiency and save you on your utility bills in 2022. These three steps include:

  • Duct Cleaning: Dust, dirt, mold and other contaminants build up within the ductwork of your heating and cooling system over time. A duct cleaning improves your indoor air quality (IAQ) and system efficiency in 2022.
  • Aeroseal Duct Sealing: Acclaimed as the new industry standard of excellence, it eliminates hot/cold spots, reduces dust and allergens, improves the efficiency and longevity of your HVAC equipment with up to 30% savings in 2022.
  • “The Protector” Air Purifier: This amazingly efficient purifier has been proven effective at killing 97% of viruses on surfaces, 97% airborne bacteria reduction and 97% airborne mold reduction in 2022.

Contact a Miller's Heating & Air Expert

Interested in learning more about Clean, Seal & Protect or have any other HVAC questions? Feel free to contact us. We are located at 6109 NE Hwy 99 Vancouver, WA 98665. You can call us anytime at 360-524-2880. Even when our office is closed, we have 24/7 Emergency Services with one of our technicians on call.

6 Toxic Air Conditioning Smells and What They Mean

Why does my AC stink? When your central air conditioner smells bad, it’s never a good sign, and definitely not good for your health. Even worse, some smells are toxic, and require urgent attention.

The air conditioning unit in your home is one of the most-used appliances, and it’s inconvenient and uncomfortable when it isn’t working properly. Fortunately, it’s pretty good about giving signs when it is in need of service. One of the key things that many homeowners notice is bad aromas coming from the unit. An odour problem doesn’t necessarily mean that the repair will be expensive. It could be a dirty air filter or condensation which has created mold in the unit.

Potentially toxic smells coming from your air conditioning unit include

1.   Burning/Electrical Odours

Electrical odours could indicate a mechanical problem with your AC fan or compressor, wiring issues, or electrical component failure. Made with a variety of metals and chemicals, prolonged exposure to these fumes is not healthy. The first few times the unit kicks on, it may emit a burning odour that can smell electrical and dusty, give it 20 to 30 minutes and see if the smell dissipates. If it does, it probably was just the dust burning off. If it continues, contact a professional HVAC technician to check out the problem and make repairs. An electrical odour typically is a problem within the motor or the wiring. Attempting to fix either of these items can result in severe injuries.

air conditioner smells air conditioning

  2. Gunpowder Smell 

Cousin to ‘burning smells,’ a distinctive, gunpowder-like aroma may also be due to a fried circuit board or fan motor.  With such smells posing similar dangers, it’s always a good idea to call for a professional inspection before running your system again.

air conditioner smells air conditioning

3. Rotten Eggs

Provided there aren’t any rotten eggs in your home, the air conditioner smells of rotten eggs or sulphur most likely indicates a natural gas leak.  Although on its own, natural gas is odourless, most utility providers add the aroma to alert people of a dangerous leak. Don’t take this lightly. If you smell a rotten-egg-like odour in your home, natural gas is likely the culprit, and immediate inspection is a must. While low level exposure is not hazardous to your health, high levels reduce oxygen in the blood, and can lead to loss of consciousness and death. Gas is also highly flammable and explosive, resulting in dozens of deaths each year. If you notice this smell, open the windows to your home right away, get out of the house immediately, then call the gas company.

air conditioner smells air conditioning

4. Exhaust Fumes

Even in systems not powered by gas, exhaust fumes can still result if fluids leak from essential components. To avoid a dangerous situation, have your system professionally assessed. Burning oil and other fluids can release large amounts of toxic gases, different in chemical makeup than in natural, liquid form. These particulates can be hazardous to your health, depleting oxygen and resulting in an array of health issues.

air conditioner smells air conditioning

5. Chemical Aroma

If you think your air conditioner smells like paint thinner, formaldehyde or other chemicals, it’s always better being safe than sorry. Many fluids are used within your air conditioning system that could result in an assortment of chemical odours with system malfunction, making prompt AC repair advisable.

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6.   Musty or Moldy Smell

Have you noticed that your air vent smells musty? An air conditioner smells like mildew or mold is probably the most common symptom of central HVAC systems. When the air conditioning is running, there is a lot of condensation within the unit. When the moisture doesn’t drain properly, it can escape into the ducts and create mold. Finding where the mold buildup is and getting it cleaned up will solve the problem. An HVAC repair technician has the knowledge to handle the problem and ensure that it doesn’t occur again.

Note: Mold and mildew smells are not serious problems with the unit, but the poor air quality does increase the risk of respiratory infections in both children and adults. You can still use the unit while you’re waiting for repairs, but you shouldn’t put it off for the sake of your family’s health.

air conditioner smells air conditioning

When troubleshooting the smell, use your other senses as well. Listen for clunking or knocking. Look for excess water on the ground or other liquids which don’t belong. Many times the smells, such as when your air vent smells musty, does not indicate an immediate danger. Smells often indicative that your system needs service. However, some smells, like rotten eggs or gas are more serious. If you are experiencing an electrical, burning odour, or gas smell, turn off the unit and call your HVAC technician right away. An HVAC repair technician can answer, ”  Why does my AC stink?” with an on sight evaluation and recommend solutions as well.

Have your central HVAC system inspected annually by Miller’s Heating & Air in 2022 to look for faulty wiring, loose or worn belts, and general wear on the unit. By having an annual service, you have peace of mind that you’ve done what you can to make sure your central HVAC unit is ready for the seasons ahead.

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What's that awful smell? When your central air conditioner smells bad, it’s never a good sign, and definitely not good for your health. Even worse, some smells are toxic, and require urgent attention. #AC #smells #safety @millersheatingair

4 thoughts on “5 Things To Know Before Installing A Gas Furnace Vancouver WA

    1. Hi Jerry! I spoke to our Senior Technician and he said that he hasn’t experienced new duct causing a smell. However a new furnace will for the first couple of times on start up due to the coating they use to prevent rusting while it was stored.

  1. our airconditioning unit was funcitioning well . Then, when we arrived at home, there was a horrible smell. i called my service man who checked drains, ducts, etc. the odor became less offensive after a time. We had a UVLED light installed
    the smell is not as bad , but still existent. We called back the installer of the light. He again checked the unit thinking the light would remove the odor. i am going to call him this week. The light has not removed the air condition smell. but strangely, when we used the heating system, there was no smell. and the add to the dilemma, the smell is still in the house.
    However, there is no smell from the ductwork on the sleeping side of our house. but, the smell is still evident in our living and dining areas
    Using what i have told you, would it be possible to give me info as the have this fixed?

    Many thanks,

    Charles Ryder

    1. Hi Charles! Thanks for reaching out. I spoke with our Service Field Manager and he said a site visit would be necessary in order to determine the source of the smell. He also let me know that he has come across coils giving off a smell in the past and that some UV lights do better than others in terms of reducing odors.

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