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What It Means When Your HVAC Smells

November 25, 2022

HVAC odors

5 Reasons Why Your Westchester NY
HVAC May Smell Strange

Learn What Unusual HVAC Odors Mean For
The System And For Yourself

Our sense of smell is one of our most valuable features – it allows us to fend off danger and attracts us to things we love. However, when we notice new and different odors emitting from our Westchester, NY HVAC systems, it might send us into high alert.

HVAC odors? Strange smells don’t always mean something is wrong with our HVAC system, but it’s always good to have a professional opinion on the source of the smell. An experienced technician will be able to diagnose any problems and pinpoint the cause of the new odor. Your indoor air quality is not something to mess with, as it can significantly affect your and your family’s health.

Here are five smells to look out for and reasons why your HVAC might be producing them.

1. HVAC Odors: Musty

If you start noticing a musty smell throughout your house, chances are your HVAC system has mold or mildew. Though this smell does not mean your home is in immediate danger, it could reduce indoor air quality.

Often older houses contain musty smells that can be traced to several sources. However, if the musty smell you experience is new, it’s almost definitely stemming from your HVAC system, and a call to a professional is in order.

HVAC technicians can find the mold or mildew and clean out the area of all spores and colonies. Regular maintenance can also help ensure that mold doesn’t return and that your systems are clear of any persistent mildew. Mold left unattended can lead to severe health and respiratory issues, so it’s always best to get it looked at as soon as possible.

2. HVAC Odors: Burning

Burning smells usually cause panic in homeowners – after all, burning smells often equates to fire. However, a burning smell is typical when homeowners first turn on their furnaces in the winter. Usually, a burning smell after turning on your furnace usually means it is burning off the dust and debris accumulated over the summer.

When this is the case, the burning smell will cease after the first few days the furnace is in use. However, if the burning odor continues, your furnace might have a more significant issue, like electrical wiring problems. Dealing with electrical wires is dangerous, so it’s best to call an HVAC professional to handle this problem.

If you smell burning during the summer months when your AC is in use, it might be from an overheating AC unit, or the AC’s motor is failing. In either case, it’s essential to call an HVAC expert who can come out and correctly diagnose the problem.


HVAC Odors: Rotten Eggs

Besides rotten eggs being one of the worst smells in your home, it’s also one of the most dangerous when coming from your HVAC system. The rotten eggs you smell are usually sulfuric in nature, a hazardous substance to breathe.

Smelling sulfur in your home could mean there’s a natural gas leak somewhere in your home, which is incredibly dangerous and life-threatening. If you smell sulfur, turn off your HVAC system completely, open windows if you can, and call an HVAC company’s emergency number.

HVAC companies that work 24/7 will be able to come out to inspect your home no matter what time of the night it is. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to this noxious odor.


HVAC Odors: Exhaust

When an AC is not working correctly, you might unexpectedly experience what smells like car exhaust. This can be a confusing smell when you’re inside your home, away from the garage or any cars. However, an exhaust smell can mean you have a leak in your air conditioner’s refrigerant line.

Because refrigerant acts as a cooling agent to other fluids inside your AC, when it’s leaked out, your AC’s fluids will start to burn. This burning is what produces the exhaust-like smell and sends it floating through your home’s vents.

Like a rotten egg smell, smelling exhaust can also be a serious indicator of other chemical leaks. The best way to know if your AC is leaking refrigerant and working correctly is to call a certified HVAC technician.

5. HVAC Odors: Garbage Or Decay

The smell of old garbage or decay is certainly not a pleasant odor to smell coming from your vents. The source of this foul odor typically means a critter or small animal has made a home for itself in your HVAC ductwork. Pests will give off this odor if they have died in the ductwork or have left behind excrement.

Neither option is fun to deal with, but at least the cause is not something hazardous or extremely costly to fix. Usually, a ductwork cleaning is all you’ll need to remove this awful stench from infiltrating your home.

Besides chewing through electrical cables, insulation, and other elements of an HVAC system when alive, dead creatures left in place can also sometimes cause damage. Regular ductwork cleanings can help prevent this problem, but professional HVAC companies can also install sealers to deter critters from finding their way into your ducts.

If Your HVAC System Smells Funky, Now’s The Time To
Call The Westchester NY Professionals

At Innovative Air, we’ve been improving the indoor air quality of our Westchester NY customers for over 22 years. As a tried and trusted HVAC repair and installation company, we’ve learned everything there is to know about HVAC systems, ensuring our customers are always met with answers and solutions.

Our regular maintenance program ensures your HVAC system is always up to speed, preventing you from smelling any unpleasant odors as much as possible. If you are smelling something unusual coming from your vents, let us come out and check it over for you.

Contact us today if you suffer HVAC odors for a free estimate on any of your HVAC needs!

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If you’re looking for a HVAC company that will give you all the time, attention and energy you deserve, contact Innovative Air today!

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