Three Causes And Solutions For A Stinky AC

When you turn on your AC for the first time this summer, you may get an unpleasant surprise -- foul odors reminiscent of a gym locker or stinky socks. Many areas of the country experienced heavier than usual snowfall, which put more moisture into the air when the spring thaw hit. This extra moisture can lead to the growth of fungus and bacteria that creates that foul odor. The following guide can help you track down and eradicate the cause of the stink so you can stay cool without torturing your nose.

Start with the filters

The filters for your AC system are the number one culprit when it comes to harboring stinky bacteria and mold, since it is their job to filter out these things. Before doing anything else, clean or replace the filters -- even if you did this task at the end of the cooling season in fall. If you have a washable filter, rinse it out with a spray of hot water, then follow it up with a spritz of a diluted bleach solution. The bleach kills any mold spores or bacteria that remains after washing. The bleach will evaporate off within a few minutes, so there is no need to a rinse with water a second time. Simply let the filter dry completely before replacing it.

Clean the main unit

After the filters, the main unit is the place to look. Begin by removing the cover from the outdoor unit and setting it aside. Use a shop vacuum to remove any debris that has gathered inside or around the unit. Then, use the vacuum to remove the dust and debris that collects in the vent fins around the exterior of the unit cover -- just take care not to bend them. Finish by wiping down all the hard surfaces with your dilute bleach solution to kill the mold and bacteria that may be present.

Go after the ducts

If the odor persists, then moisture has likely made its way into your ductwork. While you can vacuum and wipe out the sections of the ducts just behind your indoor registers and vents, often the problem has spread throughout the duct system. In this case, calling an AC service in to completely clean your ducts is the best solution to ensure that the odor doesn't plague your home all summer.

For more help with cleaning or maintaining your AC, contact a residential AC service, like Master Service Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration.