The primary function of your HVAC system is to control air flow and air temperature not odors. From time to time, you may notice a funny smell from the air that flows out of your vents. Of course, you should be worried about this and this is what has gotten many homeowners talking as to what constitutes such foul smells.
While some odors are temporary and harmless, others can be irritating and even be pointers to a much bigger problem within your HVAC unit. Do not neglect these odors when they surface and be sure to take the appropriate action.
Are You Smelling Smoke?
It is not uncommon to notice a sudden and unexplained smell of smoke coming from your vents. This is almost always a bad sign and can be traced to some electrical and mechanical problems within your AC unit. The fan, motor, and other moving parts within your unit can potentially heat up, seize up, and even catch fire especially if your unit is not well maintained.
If you notice something burning and the odor is flowing through the vent system, then proceed to shut off your HVAC system and inspect the unit outside. If smell of smoke comes from the condenser, keep the system turned off and notify a HVAC professional immediately.
If one of the house occupants smoke tobacco in the home, the HVAC system may circulate the smoke in every corner of the house including inside the system itself. The stale smoke smell then gets attached to the condenser coils and forms an odorous film within the ventilation ducts.
This may be difficult to notice if you are living in the same home with the smoker. However, if a non-smoking family buys the home, they will immediately notice it. HVAC technicians use special cleaning methods to rid your ductwork of any odorous films thereby eliminating the odor altogether. Thorough cleaning and maintenance of coils can make such a huge difference.
Damp and Musty
There are certain times the odor coming from your vents smells more or less like mold and mildew. If you smell this, then probably it is what it is. Mold and mildew form in the ductwork and coils and if left untreated can spread to the rest of your home.
This is oftentimes caused by blocked drainage tubes, leaky ductwork, and insufficient insulation. It is very important to first correct the underlying problem before you start the cleanup process. It’s advisable that you clean up the HVAC system to prevent the circulation of the mold and mildew because it can be a health hazard.
The First Heat of the Season
When you fire up your furnace during winter for the first time, it is normal to have some sort of unpleasant smell in your home. This is normal and harmless and the moment the dust settles, your system will go back to its usual odorless operation. If you feel the smell is too much, you can open a few windows and clear it quickly.
If you are experiencing any of these smells from your vents and not quite sure what to do, do not panic, get in touch with a HVAC technician to sort it out for you.