An air conditioning system can help to filter and clean your home's air, but it can also be a source of unwanted and unpleasant smells. Unfortunately, these smells aren't always easy to track down, and there may be multiple issues causing the odors. Problems may result from improper maintenance, underlying repair issues, or incorrect system operation.
If your air conditioning system isn't producing the clean and high-quality air you expect, you can take a few steps to track down the problem. These three questions will help you narrow down the possible causes and determine if you need a professional service visit.
1. Is Your Thermostat Set to "Auto?"
Always start by checking your thermostat's fan settings. Most thermostats will allow you to choose between "on," "off," and "auto." Some thermostats may also include a circulation mode. Unfortunately, there's no choice involved in the matter: if you're running your air conditioner, you must set the fan to auto mode.
While "on" or "circulation" can be helpful if you're not using your air conditioner, your AC system relies on a cycling fan to allow condensation to drain from the evaporator coil. If you run your fan continuously, water will build up and potentially create a damp, moldy smell. The problem will often disappear if you switch fan modes, although it may take some time for the smells to clear.
2. Have You Changed Your Filter?
Your filter's primary job is to protect your evaporator coil (and heat exchanger if your home has a forced-air furnace) from dust and other contaminants. However, the filter also stops these contaminants from recirculating your home, so it notably impacts your indoor air quality. A clogged filter may create extra suction that allows some contaminants to pass, but, more importantly, it will reduce airflow.
Without adequate airflow, your air conditioner's evaporator can freeze up. This condition can damage your system, and it may cause your compressor to shut down while the fan is still running. As a result, you'll get the same musty odor you would by running the fan all the time. Anytime you notice unusual AC behavior, checking and changing your filter is a good idea.
3. Are You Ignoring Annual Service Visits?
If the above solutions don't resolve the problem, another issue may be preventing your air conditioner from properly removing moisture from the air. Moist air creates a good environment for mold growth, inevitably producing unpleasant smells. The underlying issue may also be dangerous for your air conditioning system, creating the potential for a more expensive future repair.
While smells might not seem like critical problems, they can often be a symptom of a larger and less noticeable issue with your air conditioning system. Contacting a professional for a service visit will improve indoor air quality and ensure your system can continue reliably cooling and dehumidifying your home.
For more information, contact a company like Local Mechanical Heating & Air.