Strange Smells From Your Heat or A/C? Do This First!

bad smellEwww, what is that? A funky smell coming from your heating or air conditioning system doesn’t always mean you’re about to be left without cooling on a hot Los Angeles summer afternoon. Often enough, the odor is easy to get rid of with a little quick DIY maintenance.

First, Check Your Filter

Your HVAC air filter is designed to capture airborne debris such as dust, pollen, mold spores, and pet dander. Over time, this debris builds up on the filter and can eventually start to smell. As air passes through the filter, it picks up that odor and then distributes it to the rest of your rooms through the duct system.

Depending on the type of filter you use and your indoor air quality, this can happen within a month. In fact, standard one-inch fiberglass filters are designed to be replaced monthly during the heating and cooling seasons. Check your filter by removing it from the holder. If you find a layer of dust or notice an odor, put in a clean filter.

On the other hand, mold growth on a relatively new filter suggests a moisture problem in your home, so consult a professional if you find mold. You don’t want to mess around with mold.

Next, Inspect Your Ducts

If your filter is clean, the next place to look for the source of the smell is your air vents and ducts. There’s a chance something might have blown into or been dropped into an air vent, especially if you have young kids or pets. (And if you do, then you know ALL about removing Cheerios, raisins, small toys and other things from places they shouldn’t be. Are we right?) Remove each air vent cover and use a flashlight to inspect the inside of the duct behind it. If you find an item that shouldn’t be there, remove it. And if you find a large amount of dust, vacuum the duct using a hose attachment.

Next, check the accessible parts of your ducts for dust, patches of mold, and rodent or insect debris. If you find any of these, contact a professional for a duct inspection. Debris in the ducts usually indicates a problem with your system, which a professional can identify and correct before safely cleaning your ducts.

At Reliance, we want you to be happy. And a happy, no-funky-smelling HVAC system could be the ticket. Good luck and call us if you need us!