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    What Is That Smell When I Turn on My HVAC System?

    Wednesday, May 10, 2017


    Given the importance of heating and air conditioning in our lives, it can be alarming to discover something might be wrong with your HVAC system. Sometimes we see visual signs of malfunctions, or we encounter a strange sound that raises warning flags. Other times, it could be a smell that catches our attention. When your HVAC begins to stink, there are many possibilities to consider. Not all smells are a sign of serious issues, but some causes could warrant a visit from a professional as soon as possible.

    Some HVAC Smells Aren't Urgent

    Some of the smells you might experience aren't serious at all -- in some cases, an odor issue can be as simple as an air filter that needs changing. If you encounter the smell of mold or mildew coming from your unit, it typically means there is a buildup of moisture inside it. That could be the result of inadequate drainage. This isn't an urgent problem, but it also isn't one you can ignore, given the harmful impact mold can have on the health of the people who breathe it into their lungs.

    Other Heating and AC Odors Need Immediate Attention

    Some of the various smells you might detect coming from your HVAC unit are signs of serious issues. If you encounter any of these, be sure to call an expert without delay:

    • The smell of rotten eggs. Beyond being downright unpleasant, this can mean there is a gas leak present near your air ducts. If you detect this smell, get out of the house right away and call your gas company.
    • A burning smell could mean an issue with the AC's compressor or fan. If left alone, a fire can result -- don't delay on calling for help from an HVAC technician.
    • The smell of raw sewage could indicate a backed up or ruptured sewer pipe, likely located close to your ductwork. Methane gas is dangerous, and if left alone this issue could lead to a great deal of it entering your house.
    • The smell of exhaust or gunpowder can mean an engine fluid leak or a shorted component. Call for help! To avoid a dangerous situation, don't turn the unit back on until you know it's safe.

    When in Doubt, Follow Your Nose and Get a Reliable HVAC Technician

    At Certified Electric, Inc., our focus is keeping our customers safe and comfortable. If you encounter strange smells coming from your heating and air conditioning system, get in touch with us right away, before the problem can worsen. Our staff is always ready and willing to assist you with anything you need.