Don't Hold Your Nose: Learn How To Deal With Bad A/C Odors

Posted on: 3 August 2015

Notice your A/C's gotten a bit musty lately? It's not uncommon for central A/C systems to develop strange and often unpleasant odors, especially in regions that constantly face high humidity levels. Fortunately, dealing with bad A/C odors is a relatively straightforward task that can be completed in a reasonable amount of time. Find out what causes these bad odors and how to stop it in its tracks.

What Causes Odors

In a nutshell, mold, mildew and bacteria are the most common causes of foul A/C odors. In any area that's dark, damp and reasonably cool, these microorganisms have an opportunity to proliferate. Unfortunately, your central A/C system's plenum fits the bill perfectly. As airflow passes through this area, it can also pass dank, musty and sometimes foul odors from mold, mildew and bacteria growth.

Ways to Deal with A/C Odors

  • Air filter replacement – When dealing with A/C odors, this is the first and most important step you should take. Tasked with blocking mold spores and other harmful airborne pollutants, a clogged air filter is teeming with possible mold and mildew growth. A fresh air filter not only helps block further pollutants, but it can also improve your A/C's performance.
  • Evaporator coil cleaning – Use a mild detergent and a soft-bristle brush or a foaming no-rinse spray cleaner to break up and remove colonies of mold and mildew from the evaporator coil. Treat the evaporator coil with care, as the aluminum fins lining the coil are delicate and prone to deformation.
  • Condensate pan cleaning – After cleaning your evaporator coil's act, focus on getting rid of mold growth and any potential clogging issues from your condensate pan and drain pipe. Use a mild detergent to clean the pan and, if necessary, use a pipe cleaner or a small drain snake to break up drain clogs. As a disinfectant against future mold growth, pour a cup of bleach or white vinegar into the condensate drain.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) lamp placement – To ward against future mold growth, you may want to consider installing an ultraviolet (UV) lamp over your A/C system's evaporator coil. Sunlight is a natural disinfectant and UV light in the "C" band (UV-C) generates the same disinfecting rays as its cosmic counterpart. With strategic placement of UV lamps, you won't have to worry about mold growth on or near your coils again.
  • Ductwork inspection and cleaning – It's also a good idea to check and clean your home's ductwork. It's not uncommon for small animals to become trapped within the ducts, often leading to problems if the animal dies and decomposes while trapped. Ductwork cleaning also gets rid of settled dust and debris lining the walls of the ducts.

These measures can help keep mold, mildew and bacteria growth at bay, thereby eliminating those foul odors from your A/C system. For more information, visit