Three Common HVAC Odors Explained

Regardless of the age of your home’s HVAC system, you may occasionally notice unusual odors while running the air conditioning or heater. Strange smells are sometimes part of a normally functioning HVAC system, but they may also point to problems that need to be addressed. Here are three common odors you may notice and a look at their possible causes. 

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Electrical or Burning Odors

When you turn on the heater for the first time in months, you’ll likely notice a burning, electrical smell as dust burns away from the heating elements. In this case, the odor isn’t a cause for concern, but if you notice a burning smell that persists or appears out of nowhere, you may have an electrical problem that requires professional repair. Simply turn off your system until a technician can inspect and diagnose the issue. 

Moldy or Musty Odors

Moldy and musty odors are common issues with residential HVAC systems. While running, air conditioning units create a lot of condensation. If that water doesn’t drain properly, it can seep into ducts and quickly cause mold or mildew buildup. Such issues should be addressed as soon as possible, as mold and mildew can cause a range of respiratory and allergy problems. 

Gassy or Rotten Egg Odors

Natural gas is naturally odorless, but many utility providers add a sulfurous scent that alerts homeowners to a dangerous gas leak. A gassy smell similar to rotten eggs coming from your HVAC system could indicate a gas leak. If you suspect this to be the case, act quickly. Open several windows and leave your house until the gas company arrives to address the problem. 

HVAC odors are sometimes harmless, but they can also indicate dangerous functional problems. Since 1981, American Energy Air and Solar has been addressing a wide variety of residential and commercial HVAC issues in Greater Sacramento, as well as offering HVAC installations.

If you notice strange odors from your system, call us at 1-888-205-1394 for a free estimate or emergency assistance.