5 Steps For Getting Rid of Musty Air Duct Odors from Vents

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Jun 2018 12

“Why does my home air conditioner smell bad?”

It’s a question HVAC experts get often. Summer is finally here, and that means you and your family are going to be using the air conditioning A LOT more often. The only thing worse than an HVAC system that stops working in the middle of a hot day? One that has a musty odor.

Summer also means humidity, and mold is one of the most common reasons why your air vent smells musty. Ductwork is warm and damp – the perfect home for mold. No matter how clean you keep your air ducts, spores will begin to grow once the temperature reaches above 65 degrees Fahrenheit in a humid environment.

This isn’t just an unpleasant experience – it can also be bad for your health. Certain molds produce dangerous toxins that can cause allergic reactions, chronic fatigue, and persistent headaches.

It goes without saying, it’s best to act right away if your central air conditioner smells musty. HVAC experts recommend homeowners try the following tips.

1. Find the Source

Is the smell coming from a specific vent, or is it distributed throughout the home?

If every room seems to have a musty odor, the issue might be with your return ducts. This part of your ductwork feeds air from your home back through your heating and cooling system to be cooled down once more.

This is a particular issue with bathrooms and kitchens. These rooms often have high humidity levels, and your return duct might be sucking up the excess moisture (and inadvertently feeding the mold).

Inspect your return air filter for signs of discoloration from mold. Do the same with the rest of your home’s vents and ducts, using a bright flashlight when necessary. You’ll need to figure out how far the mold has spread.

2. Clean the Condenser Coils & Draining Pan

Remove the access panel to the back of your central air conditioning system. Clean the metal fins in front of the condenser coils with a vacuum to remove dirt and debris.

Spray a solution of one-part bleach to 9-parts water onto the coils and collection pan, wiping them both down.

3. Clear Clogged Condensate Drain Line

In addition to keeping your home cool, your HVAC system also removes moisture from the air. Your condensate drain line is responsible for drawing condensed water from your indoor unit and disposing of it outside.

Check near your outdoor unit for a small pipe. If it isn’t dripping this excess water onto the ground, you might have a clog somewhere in your drain line. A clog will cause water to back up into the drain pan, creating a breeding ground for mold.

Clear your drain line using a handheld vacuum, or try pouring a solution of bleach and water down the mouth.

4. Replace Air Filters

Your air filters are responsible for catching mold spores, allergens, dirt, and other contaminants. These need to be replaced every 30 - 90 days, depending on whether your home has pets or occupants with allergies.

5. Use a Dehumidifier

Check your home’s humidity levels to determine if you have excessive moisture in the air. Consider investing in a dehumidifier for your home. These appliances remove moisture from the air, which will both improve air quality and keep mold at bay.

Get a free air duct inspection in Chicago

With a little TLC and attention, you can easily keep your air conditioning unit clean and fresh. If you are living in Chicago, use the opportunity for a free air duct inspection. Contact us for additional information about HVAC Experts service. We will be happy to answer your questions.