What to Do When Your Air Conditioner Smells Like Mold
Especially in the summertime, we all depend on our air conditioners to keep us cool as temperatures soar above 80 degrees. But because air conditioners use water to cool air and push it through our homes, it’s common for them to have a mildew like smell, especially if they are older.
If you notice your air conditioner has a mildewy or moldy smell, the most important step is to inspect it for mold. If water is left to sit in the unit, such as from a leak, it can trigger mold growth, contributing to the moldy smell. If you do find mold in your air conditioner, it’s important to clean it out as soon as possible before it pushes mold spores into your air ducts and spreads throughout your home.
If there is mold in your crawlspace, basement, or other areas of your home, don’t hesitate to call a local mold remediation service to remove and prevent it from spreading.
5 Reasons Why Your Air Conditioner Might Smell Like Mold
Mold smells can develop at any time within your air conditioner. When they work properly, air conditioners can efficiently cool homes in hot, humid climates. Here are the most common reasons why mold begins to form within air conditioners and what to do about it:
- Ductwork: It’s common for mold spores to accumulate within the ductwork, particularly for oversized ducts. Leaks and tears can also be another contributor, allowing moisture to seep through and develop mold growth. An HVAC contractor can thoroughly clean and even the seal the ductwork if needed.
- Condensate drain line: The condensate drain line runs from the outside of the unit to the coils and removes any condensation created by the coils. It should be cleaned frequently by removing the cover of the pipe and pouring a solution of vinegar and water down the pipe. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes and then rinse out the line with water. If the water doesn’t come out, there’s a clog within the line. An HVAC professionals should be able to flush it out.
- Drip pan: Check to see if the drip pan below the air conditioner has been filling up too quickly. It’s also common for it to become blocked with leaves and debris. The best way to empty it out is to first turn off the air conditioner and then use a wet/dry vac to remove standing water. But if the problem occurs repeatedly, it’s time to call in a professional.
- Filter: If the filter is dirty or clogged, it can develop a mildewy smell and spur mold growth. As tiny organic particles fill the filter, it’s time to replace it. Generally, filters should be replaced about once a month.
- Internal Issues: It’s common for the interior parts of the air conditioner to be dirty, but mildew can be a big problem. It’s only natural for it to grow given the presence of moisture and warm weather, especially for older A/C units. But if it looks excessively dirty or contains mold, it’s important to call in a professional.
How to Identify a Moldy Smell
If you’re unsure of what mold smells like, it’s an earthy, dank smell. It most commonly grows in dark, damp conditions, such as an air conditioner. If you’ve never seen mold before, it may be hard to identify.
Many associate the smell of mold with a musty, rotten wood smell. The smell of mildew is similar, however, it’s typically not as strong as the smell of mold. If the air conditioner has a mildew smell, it can be identified through the vent as that will likely be the source of it. If the air also feels humid or you start to sneeze, there is likely a mold issue.
Mold in Your Home
Small amounts of mold in the air conditioner can be cleaned with some water and vinegar, or by an HVAC professional. But the problem can be overwhelming if the mold has already traveled through your ducts and has affected your home’s interior.
If you find any mold anywhere in your home, such as the attic, basement, bathroom, or bedrooms, it’s important to call a mold removal professional. Summer is the most common season for mold growth as humidity levels are at their highest and contribute to lots of mold growth.
If you are suspicious of mold growth due to a musty or moldy smell in your home, try to find it as soon as possible. Inspect the air vents, in between cracks, in and around appliances, plumbing fixtures, and along your foundation as these are all common areas exposed to moisture. The sooner you find the mold, the closer you are to removing it.
Mold Remediation Services
As soon as you find mold in your home, removing it right away is crucial to prevent it from spreading and damaging the surrounding areas. Especially for large areas, it’s best to allow the professionals to handle the remediation process as the job can get dangerous if you’re not using the right equipment or products.
For those living in the Morris County, NJ area, ServiceMaster by Timeless is available to provide mold removal services for homes that have been affected by mold from the air conditioner or any other appliance. Our mold specialists will arrive onsite with all products and equipment needed to remove the mold at the source.
We will identify all areas of mold growth using moisture detection meters, followed by setting up a containment chamber to prevent the mold from spreading to new areas during the remediation process.
Once the mold is contained, we will use professional products to remove the mold at the source, eliminating all spores to prevent regrowth. We can also repair any water damaged areas, including replacing soiled materials and installing replacements, followed by applying anti-microbials to prevent future growth.
Following the mold remediation process, we will work with your insurance claims adjuster, if a claim was filed, for additional peace of mind.