What Air Conditioning Odors Says About Your HVAC

air conditioning odorsAir conditioning odors may indicate a number of issues. In most cases, there’s no need for alarm. Nevertheless, you may need to clean the HVAC and air duct system. We’ll go over some of the common smells and what they mean.

Types of Air Conditioning Odors

Musty Odor

Do you detect a musty smell similar to sweaty body odor? This is usually a sign of mildew or mold inside the HVAC. During the dehumidification process, moisture collects in the air filter and ductwork. Mold can develop in as little as 24 hours if the water does not completely evaporate.

Remedy this problem by bringing in a professional to replace the filter and checking the drain pan to make sure it’s emptying properly.


Does the odor have a sour smell, reminiscent of vinegar? This may occur because the electric motor is emitting ozone. The smell is mostly harmless, though some people with sensitivities may experience allergies.


You shouldn’t smell tobacco smoke unless someone in the home is a smoker. Smoke residue can accumulate in the coils and air filter. The odor may not be noticeable to the smoker, but will be obvious to non-smokers.

Stinky Feet

The odor of smelly feet likely means you have a clogged drain pan. This requires attention since a clogged pan leaves the AC susceptible to mold growth.

Rotting Garbage

Any rotting smell is an indicator of a decomposing animal, likely a bird or rodent. A rotting animal corpse isn’t dangerous, though the smell may make you a bit queasy.

We’ll Clean the AC and Vents

The furnace and dryer vents can also cause unpleasant smells. This is why you should contact Aurora Edmonds Furnace Cleaning if you notice any abnormal odors in the AC, vents, or other components.

Edited by Justin Vorhees

Air Vent and AC Odor Removal

Serving Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Bellevue,

King County and South Snohomish County