So, you are sitting in your living room asking yourself
“why does my air conditioner smell bad?”
Well, let me tell you.
A smelly air conditioner is not uncommon. There are a lot of things that can cause your air conditioner to smell bad.
Let’s start with identifying the odor.
The two most common odor complaints are smelly sock and rotten eggs.
When you get a big whiff of the air coming out of your vent’s, does it smell like mold/mildew/dirty socks or does it smell like you forgot to pick up the Easter eggs and they are rotting in your air vent?
Let’s tackle the dirty sock smell first.
The dirty sock smell is caused by mold or mildew in your system. The two places you could have mold or mildew at is in your ductwork or on your evaporator coil.
Dirty ducts can breed mold. It can get in there and spread.
The evaporator coil is the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. You have warm air blowing across damp coils. If dirt gets in there, mold and mildew can start breeding.
The other thing that can cause the dirty sock smell is a clogged drain line.
If your air conditioner drain gets clogged, the standing water can breed mold and bacteria. That odor will get sucked into your vents and distributed through your home.
How do I fix it?
If you smell dirty socks in your vents, you should first make sure it is not just dirty socks your kid stuffed in the air vent.
If your vents are sock free, check around your indoor HVAC unit. Look for water in the drain pan or around your system. If there is no water in the drain pan or around your unit, you probably do not have a clogged drain.
At this point, you will probably need to call a professional. The only way to be sure there is mold or mildew on the evaporator coil or inside your duct work is to visually inspect it.
Once there is confirmation of a mold or mildew presence, you will need to have it cleaned and identify the reason it formed in the first place. If you just clean it, it will come back.
Now on to the rotten egg smell.
If you smell rotten eggs in your home, first check to make sure all the Easer eggs were found. If it’s not an actual rotten egg, it’s probably a dead animal in your duct work or near your HVAC system.
Trouble shooting this is straight forward. The smell will be worse the closer you get to it. Find the vent that the smell is the worst. Then call a pest control specialist and point them in that direction.
Stinky air coming out of your vents is not only unpleasant but it is also unhealthy. If your air conditioner smells bad, you need to have a professional come out and fix the problem. Don’t breathe dirty air.
“Why does my air conditioner freeze?” is a common question.
It’s hard to believe your air conditioner can freeze in 90° weather. It does happen though and fixing it may be easier than you think.
So, why does your air conditioner freeze?
Your air conditioner can freeze for a few different reasons.
Insufficient air flow across the evaporator coil.
If your coil is not getting enough air flow, it is not transferring the heat properly from your home to the refrigerant in your air conditioning system. This will cause the refrigerant temperature to continually drop and eventually freeze.
To fix this, start by checking your air filter. Make sure it is not clogged and blocking your air flow. Checking your air filter is the equivalent to restarting your computer when you are having computer problems. 9 times out of 10, it is the first thing you should do.
If your air filter is clean and your system is still freezing, check your vents. Make sure your vents are not blocked. If your return vent is covered, your cooling system might not be able to draw enough air in.
Your cooling system is designed to have a specific amount of refrigerant. If the refrigerant level gets too low it throws off the pressure of the system and can cause freezing. If airflow is not the problem, you will need a professional to check your refrigerant levels and recharge your system, if needed.
An air conditioner is a complicated system with a lot of moving parts. If you have good air flow and the proper amount of refrigerant and your air conditioner is still freezing, you probably have a mechanical failure someplace in your system.
This could be a kink in the refrigerant line, a broken blower motor, or various other mechanical problems. It is best to call in a professional to troubleshoot and repair your system.
There are a lot of things that can go wrong with your cooling system. Make sure you check what you can before you call someone.
You don’t want to sit in your home sweating while you wait for the service technician to come if all you had to do was change the filter.
On that same note, you don’t want to go beyond your capabilities either. Don’t start taking your air conditioner apart if you don’t know what you are doing. You may cause more damage or get injured just trying to save a couple bucks.
Air conditioner technology has been advancing over the years.
If you have an old air conditioner, it has two speeds – Full blast and off. Basically, your thermostat tells your air conditioner to cool your home. Your air conditioner turns on at full power and runs until your thermostat tells it to stop. This is the way old systems work. There are many reasons to stop using that technology.
How does a variable speed air conditioner work?
When your thermostat tells your variable speed air conditioner to cool off your home it turns on at a low speed. It goes to higher speeds based on how much you need to cool. If you turn your thermostat from 90 to 60 it will most likely go to full power. If your thermostat is telling your air conditioner to cool your home 1 or 2 degrees then it will probably turn on the lowest speed.
What are the benefits of a variable speed air conditioner?
There are a lot of benefits to a variable speed air conditioner. Here are the top 5:
- Energy efficiency: Since your air conditioner will turn on at lower speeds, it is more energy efficient. An old system will run at 100% power when all it needs is 20%.
- Better indoor air quality: With your variable speed air conditioner running longer at lower speeds, you will be pushing more air through the filter and circulating more air through your home. As long as you change your filter when needed, your indoor air quality will improve.
- Quieter: Your air conditioner will not be turning on full blast when it is not needed. That makes the operation a lot quieter. You may not even hear it turn on.
- Better comfort: With the variable speed air conditioner running longer at lower speeds, you will have a more consistent temperature throughout your home.
- Less wear and tear: A variable speed air conditioner will run longer than an older one but it will turn on and off less. This will decrease wear and tear on your system.
I hear a lot of people ask “why do I need a maintenance agreement”, “is a maintenance agreement a good idea”, or “why should I get a maintenance agreement”.
Well, let me tell you about maintenance agreements. Then you can decide if it is something you need.
So, what is a maintenance agreement?
A maintenance agreement is kind of like prepaid inspections and maintenance for your heating and air conditioning system.
That’s not all it is though.
Most maintenance agreements have added benefits like, priority scheduling, discounts on repairs, and not paying overtime rates for nights, weekends, and holidays.
So, with a maintenance agreement that covers your furnace and air conditioner, you are getting a service technician to check your air conditioner in the spring and your furnace in the fall. They will check everything for safety and make sure your system is running at peak performance. They will also pressure wash your air conditioner condenser unit in the spring.
They will also give you head of the line privileges for scheduling, discounts on parts, and no overtime rates for emergency service calls.
You might be thinking, that’s all great, but I can maintain my own system.
Well, you can maintain your own system. You can, and should, change your air filter every month too. Do you do that? Will you actually check all of your lines for damage, clean debris out of your air conditioner condenser unit, pressure wash your condenser unit, check your drain, check your wires, check your controls and safeties, and everything else that your maintenance agreement will check?
If you will do all that, that’s great. You are one of the very few that has the knowledge, equipment, time, and motivation to keep up on your heating and cooling system maintenance.
The burning question everyone wants to be answered is, do I need it?
If you have a new heating and cooling system, you should get a maintenance agreement. Having someone check and clean your system keeps it running at peak performance. It will decrease your chances of breakdowns, keep your operating cost down, and extend the life of your system.
You wouldn’t buy a brand new car and then never change the oil, would you?
If you have a system that is 5 – 10 years old, you should get a maintenance agreement. If your system is getting older you need to make sure it is maintained. If you bought a house and have not done anything with your heating and cooling system, you don’t know if maintenance has ever been performed. You need to take care of it to prevent breakdowns.
If you have a system that is older than 10 years, you need a maintenance agreement. Your system is getting old and it will break. Not paying the emergency overtime rate is worth the cost of a maintenance agreement.
Murphy’s Law says, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”.
It’s Christmas day, your family is gathering around the tree to open presents. Then your furnace makes a loud sound and turns off.
You go look at it, play with the thermostat, flip the breaker, talk to the furnace, kick the furnace, and realize you don’t know how to make it turn back on.
If you don’t have a maintenance agreement, you are paying a service technician holiday rates to come out and fix your furnace or you are having a very cold Christmas.
If you have a maintenance agreement that does waive emergency overtime rates, you will get a service technician to fix your furnace at the normal hourly rate and you will probably get a discount on parts.
When don’t you need a maintenance agreement? If you have the equipment, knowledge, and time to check and maintain your own system, then you probably don’t need a maintenance agreement. You also will need to be able to troubleshoot and repair your own system to make not having a maintenance agreement worthwhile.
Do you hear that? That is your air conditioner making a weird sound. It’s your toilet overflowing. Maybe it’s your ceiling fan shorting out.
When something breaks in your home you want it fixed quickly. Not only that, you also want it fixed right. You also don’t want to pay a lot for the repair.
Well, the bad news is you can’t have fast, cheap, and good. You normally only get two of the three.
A cheap and fast job will normally result in poor quality work. You will most likely have to pay someone else to fix it correctly.
Good quality and cheap will take time. Companies will probably put other customers ahead of you.
Good quality work, done quickly will be expensive.
Most companies will give you a happy medium between the three. You will get good quality, done in a reasonable amount of time, for a good rate.
Why am I telling you this? Well, these are the things you need to think about when you are hiring a contractor. You will get what you pay for. Sometimes you will get what you didn’t pay for.
When you see an ad on Craigslist or Facebook from some random guy saying he can fix your problem cheap or install something for you, you might want to think about it a little before calling him.
Here is what you need to know before you hire someone to work in your home.
Are they licensed?
Licensing is regulated by the states. Michigan requires companies, or individuals, to be licensed if they are in the HVAC, plumbing, electrical, or construction fields. If an individual is working for a company, the company needs a license. If he or she is working alone then he or she needs to be licensed. There is a lot more to licensing but it is not important for this article.
If an unlicensed company or individual performs work in your home it could void the warranty of whatever they are working on. It could also affect your insurance. For example, an unlicensed individual installs a ceiling fan in your home. He leaves wires exposed in your attic. The wires spark and your house burns down. Then the insurance company doesn’t pay because you hired an unlicensed guy to install your fan.
That might be a bit extreme, but it is not out of the realm of possibility.
Are they insured?
A contractor should have two insurance policies. One for liability and one for worker’s compensation.
Liability insurance allows the contractor to file a claim for property damage, equipment damage, and things of that sort.
Worker’s Compensation insurance allows the contractor to file a claim for injuries to himself or his employees.
If an uninsured worker gets injured in your home or on your property you could be liable. They could blame you for getting injured and force you to pay for their medical bills and equipment damage. If this happens, your insurance company will most likely not protect you. A lot of insurance companies have an uninsured contractors clause that gets them out of paying.
Always ask a company if they are licensed and insured. If they say yes, ask them to prove it. Don’t take the risk of voiding your warranties or being sued just to save a couple dollars.
Ask what other projects they have done.
Just because they have a license and insurance doesn’t automatically mean they are great at what they do. Look for reviews and testimonials. If they only have one testimonial and it is two years old, you might want to keep looking.
Spend a little time researching the company or individual you are planning to hire. I’m not saying check references of the fire department while your house is on fire. An emergency is an emergency. If you have some time to do some research and ask some questions you should.