January 18, 2024
Common Problems That Cause Musty ACs

Have you experienced a smell of stale food, mildew, or mold when you turn on your AC? Regardless of how you put it, you would agree that it is not a pleasant experience to have in your home.

The smell could indicate some underlying issues in your cooling system. Don’t ignore persistent musty odors, thinking that they are normal, or go the extra mile by masking the smell with air fresheners. The surest way to fix the problem is to get to its root. Track down the issue with the help of a qualified HVAC technician, as it is not only healthy but also adds comfort to your home and reduces the cost of HVAC repairs in the long run.

If you are wondering what could make your AC smell musty, there is no one cause. A variety of issues could cause it, so let’s look at some of the common causes that would make your AC emit such an undesirable odor.

1. Dirty Evaporator Coils

During the summer, your AC functions by removing humidity and heat from your home, resulting in a cooling effect. The role of the evaporator coil in the cooling system is to evaporate the moisture after absorbing the moisture and warm air indoors. It then cycles the air to bring back dry and cool air into your home.

If the evaporator coil is left dirty or frozen, it will not function optimally. This means that your house will retain humidity and warm air. The moisture will not evaporate; hence, it will remain trapped in your cooling system. The result is the eventual development of mildew and mold.

A professional technician has special tools that are effective in deep cleaning coils and disinfecting bioslime buildup without damaging the fins. If you have this problem, you can contact Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating to check the options available for your home.

2. Dirty or Leaky Air Ducts

As a homeowner in Hanover, the value of air ducts during the cooling season cannot be overemphasized. Air ducts are responsible for the circulation of air from your cooling system to all parts of your home. However, when mildew and moldy odors are trapped in the air ducts, they are also transported in the same manner as air to all parts of your house.

When you smell a moldy smell in your indoor air, hire a duct cleaning professional who can diagnose why exactly there is dirt circulating throughout your home. Read here to learn more about the benefits of frequent duct cleaning. Some of the particulates in your air may contain pollutants, diseases, growth, and allergens that can significantly impact the health of your family.

Here are some of the odor-causing things that can build up in your air ducts:

  • Pollen
  • Dust mites and dust
  • Fungi and fungal spores
  • End-products of tobacco smoke
  • Rodents and insects
  • Fecal matter
  • Mold
  • Pet dander

Ignoring the warning signs of the musty odor can expose you and your family to respiratory health problems and can worsen allergies and asthma attacks.

3. Excess Moisture in Vents or Ducts

One potential reason why you are smelling a musty odor in your indoor air is that there is excess moisture trapped in the vents or ducts of your cooling system. When humidity levels rise, moist air easily condenses on the cold ducts and vents, as they are made of metal. This results in the pooling of water, which then contributes to the buildup of mold, bacteria, and mildew behind the ceilings and walls. The result is nauseating fumes with a musty odor.

Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating can get your efficient humidity control services to help regulate indoor air moisture to prevent condensation. An HVAC professional will guide you on how to handle saturated insulation that could cause microbial growth behind walls.

4. Clogged Drain Pipe

A drain pipe helps drain water to the outdoor unit once it is collected in the drip pan. By its nature, a drain pipe operates in a moist and dark environment, which is a high-risk area for mold growth. The pipe is also vulnerable to clogging, which also results in a musty odor.

When dirt, debris, and algae clog the line, water backs up and leaks somewhere inside the pipes instead. This stagnant water breeds mold and bacteria, creating an unpleasant, decaying smell.

A professional HVAC technician has specialized tools that they use to dislodge the sticky mess. During installation, ensure that the drain line is capped outside to prevent re-entering more dirt.

5. Leaky Condensate Pan

If you notice that there is a puddle under your AC, it could mean that there is a crack or corrosion in the internal condensate pan. This is a common occurrence, especially for old cooling systems that have gone through constant condensation cycles. Mold grows as a result of water spilling through the pan to collect beneath your system and stagnate afterward, similarly to what may happen within your ducts if moisture is left unchecked.

6. Overfull Drip Pan

Your AC does not only help keep your home cool but also provides dry air by extracting moisture. The extracted moisture is collected in a drip pan.

In some instances, your drip pan could be damaged or corroded, which means that it cannot function as expected to extract and collect moisture from the air. Without anywhere to go, the moisture may build up in your cooling system. This will create an environment conducive to mold growth, resulting in a musty smell.

7. Oversized AC

Your home could smell musty because your air conditioner is too big for the space installed. This means that the AC will cool the air faster than it is intended to, which means it doesn’t dehumidify the air as well as the manufacturers specify. Hence, the remaining humid air will just circulate in your home. In such a scenario, without adequate ventilation to maintain the humidity levels, mildew and mold can grow, giving out an undesirable stench.

An oversized AC may increase your electricity bills while at the same time leaving your home smelling clammy and uncomfortable. We recommend talking to an HVAC technician to walk you through the journey of selecting the right size of AC according to your needs.

Breathe Fresh Air Today

Catching problems early can help you prevent simple issues from escalating into mold hazards or even causing total failure of your HVAC system. Don’t choose the wrong route by masking strange smells from your AC with scents and sprays. Instead, talk to Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating.

We have licensed HVAC technicians who will inspect your system and get to the root of the problem. We will get the musty smell out of your way as soon as we can, making sure you enjoy the comfort of an efficient HVAC system.

We offer heating and cooling services such as repair, installation, maintenance, oil-to-gas furnace conversion, and heat pumps in Hannover and the surrounding areas. We also serve to cool your house through AC repair, installation, maintenance, and mini-splitting. Other services we offer include indoor air quality, duct cleaning, and ductwork. Call us at Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating today!

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