Is your HVAC system making your home smell moldy or musty? HVAC systems are often prone to bad odors, which can result from a variety of different issues. Professional maintenance is the easiest way to prevent and overcome HVAC odors, but there are other options you have for eliminating odors.
Annual Maintenance Can Prevent and Overcome Odors
Regular maintenance is essential for all cooling and heating systems. If your home has central heating and air conditioning, each of these systems should be fully inspected and professionally maintained once a year. Regular maintenance can help reduce the need for repairs and also prevent issues that could hamper the performance of your HVAC system, causing you to have less comfort and your energy bills to increase. Maintenance also helps to protect the life of your HVAC equipment so that it lasts as long as possible.
One of the most important parts of maintaining a central air conditioning system is cleaning the evaporator coil, which helps to both improve the effectiveness of your AC system and prevent odors. If you ever notice a moldy or musty odor when your air conditioning is running, the AC evaporator coil is usually the culprit. The evaporator coil is part of the AC system inside your home. Using a cold refrigerant liquid, it removes heat from the warm air flowing through the system. As the AC runs, moisture in the warm air always condenses into water on the evaporator coil.
The evaporator coil is located inside the air handler compartment. When your AC is running, warm air constantly flows into the air handler. The evaporator coil is also constantly wet when your AC is on. This combination of moisture on the evaporator coil and warm air creates the perfect conditions for mold, mildew, and bacteria to grow on the coil itself and also in the drain pan just below it. Mold and mildew can also easily grow in the condensate drain lines that channel all the water away from the coil and into your sewer system or outside your home.
Cleaning the evaporator coil regularly is important for eliminating mold and thus preventing bad odors. Having the evaporator coil professionally cleaned is also important to ensure it isn’t coated with dirt and dust. Any time the evaporator coil is dirty, your AC won’t work nearly as well since dust insulates the coil so that the warm air cannot come directly into contact with it. When this happens, your AC won’t remove nearly as much heat from the air and will cool far more slowly. A dirty evaporator coil can also start to freeze up, which will prevent your AC from cooling at all and lead to warm air blowing out of your vents.
When cleaning the evaporator coil, technicians will thoroughly clean the drain pan to get rid of any mold and mildew. They will also check the condition of the condensate drain pipes to ensure they aren’t leaking or clogged. Mold and mildew can easily clog the drain pipes, which can lead to water leaking out of the drain pan and also cause the surrounding area to smell. If the drain pipes are clogged or overly moldy, the technician can also clean them out to eliminate any odors and ensure the water can drain away from the system properly.
Professional Duct Cleaning
The ductwork in most homes is usually quite filthy and filled with lots of dust, lint, and other debris. Not only can this make the air exiting your vents smell dirty and musty, but all of the debris can also attract pests and make great spots for them to nest.
Having your ductwork professionally cleaned can help to prevent and eliminate odors. This is something you should schedule at least once every few years. It’s also a good idea to have your ducts cleaned if you’ve recently had a pest infestation since mice and other pests will often nest in ductwork. If you don’t clean your ducts, there’s always a chance that you have dead pests in them. Condensation in your ducts can also lead to mold growth and bad odors, which is why it’s important that any ducts in your attic or crawl space are fully insulated. This will prevent condensation from forming.
How HVAC UV Lights Can Help Prevent Bad Odors
Germicidal UV lights can be a huge help in preventing moldy and musty odors as well. This type of unit emits powerful ultraviolet light that will destroy mold and mold spores on contact. The UV rays also work to kill any odor-causing bacteria and even viruses.
These UV light units can be either coil-sanitizing or air-sanitizing. Coil-sanitizing units are installed in the air handler so that the light shines directly on the evaporator coil to eliminate any mold and bacteria. This type of unit will remain on 24 hours a day so that it prevents any new mold and bacteria from growing. Once you finally shut your AC system off at the end of the season, you can then switch the light off.
Air-sanitizing lights are slightly larger units that can be installed inside the air handler or in any other part of the duct system. This type of unit will work to kill any mold, bacteria, and viruses in the air that flow through the duct to prevent and eliminate odors and also improve indoor air quality. An air-sanitizing unit can also help if you have frequent issues with condensation and mold growing in one part of your duct system. Unlike coil-sanitizing lights that remain on constantly, air-sanitizing lights will automatically turn on and off whenever your HVAC system does and can be used throughout the year instead of only when you’re using your AC.
How to Know When HVAC Odors Are a Sign of a Serious Problem
There are also some times when bad odors coming from your HVAC system can be a sign of a serious problem. If you have a gas furnace and ever notice a strong chemical smell coming from your vents, it usually indicates that the furnace’s heat exchanger is cracked. This is an extremely serious problem as a crack in the heat exchanger can allow carbon monoxide and other harmful fumes to leak out into your ductwork. For this reason, it is vital that you immediately shut off your heating system and call for an inspection if you ever do notice a chemical smell when your furnace is on.
A burning smell when your heating or AC is running is also a sign of a major problem. In most cases, the burning smell indicates that there is an electrical problem that has resulted in some of the system’s internal electrical wiring starting to melt. This can also happen if your furnace or the HVAC blower overheats for any reason. Overheating and electrical issues can both be major fire hazards, so you should always immediately shut off the system if it does smell like something is burning. Leave it off until you can have a technician inspect everything.
If you’re dealing with bad odors coming from your HVAC system, you can count on American Air & Heat for help. We specialize in AC and heating maintenance, and we also offer professional duct-cleaning services and UV light installation. For more information or to schedule any AC, heating, or indoor air quality service in the Oviedo, FL area, contact us today.