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Your HVAC System and Strong Odors in Your Home – Cause or Solution?

This is the first in a two-part series about your HVAC system and strong odors in your home. When it comes to bad smells in your home, your HVAC system could be a source of the problem. However, your HVAC system can also be the solution to strong odors from a variety of sources. Let’s raise a stink about bad smells in your home and what you can do about them.

Strong Odors in Your House and Health Problems

Headaches, nausea, dizziness, respiratory issues, and fatigue can all be brought on by bad odors. And a buildup of odors in your home can come from a variety of sources, such as drains in sinks and appliances, pets, shoes, your refrigerator, your hot water heater, and yes, even your HVAC system. 

We want to make sure your HVAC system isn’t stinking up your house and that you can your family are healthy and living in a pleasant environment. So, let’s talk about when your HVAC system stinks – literally. 

When Your HVAC System Is the Cause of Bad Smells in Your Home

There are several different and problematic smells that can emanate from your HVAC system, indicating that you have a problem on your hands. Here are the four most likely culprits and what to do about them.

My HVAC System Smells Like Rotten Eggs

We’re starting with the issue that’s the most dangerous. If the smell of rotten eggs seems to be emanating from your HVAC system, this often means you have a natural gas leak. If you get a whiff of that sulfur-like odor, act quickly. Turn off your system immediately. Throw open some windows so that any leaking gas doesn’t build up in your home. Then get out of the house and call the gas company to come and inspect and seal up any leak. 

Occasionally, a rotten egg smell can come from a buildup of certain matter in your ductwork. If the gas company determines there’s no leak, contact us for help with getting the odor out of your ductwork.

My HVAC System Has a Musty Odor

Even if you don’t see a buildup of green or black spots in the damp areas of your home where mold tends to grow, you can still have mold hidden around your home. If you get a gust of mustiness when your HVAC kicks on, mold could be hiding somewhere within your system. Mold in your system means it’s circulating around your house, impacting your indoor air quality, and potentially causing adverse health effects for your family. You’ll want to address the problem as soon as possible by scheduling an appointment with our certified technicians. We can remove the mold where it’s hiding, and our simple, annual maintenance program will likely keep it from returning. There are additional ways to prevent mold buildup in your HVAC system, but we’ll get to that in part two of our series.

My HVAC System Smells “Electric”

 Okay, electricity technically doesn’t have a smell. The odor comes from what electricity does when it conducts through the air. It ionizes oxygen, creating ozone, which is the source of the smell. Sometimes we can smell this in the air before a storm hits because of lightening oxidizing the air in the distance. Ozone has a distinct odor that we can smell in the air in concentrations as low as 10 parts per billion!

But you were probably familiar with that “electric” smell before that explanation.

 If you get a nose full of ozone and you think it’s coming from your HVAC system, don’t hesitate. Turn off the system and call us for an appointment – an emergency one if you have to. Electrical problems should be left to our professional technicians and are not the kind of maintenance you want to attempt on your own. We’ll know whether it’s just a part that needs replacing or if your HVAC system needs to be replaced. Either way, we’ll have you back in comfort as soon as possible.

My HVAC System Smells Like Dirty Socks

This is called “Dirty Sock Syndrome,” but it’s not caused by dirty socks. If your HVAC system smells like maybe the Pittsburgh Penguins came into your house while you weren’t looking and took off their gear after a long game, your system may have Dirty Sock Syndrome. It’s caused by bacteria taking up residence in the evaporator coils of your air conditioner. Yuck! Another unpleasant HVAC system issue you’ll want to handle as soon as you can because the problem goes beyond a bad smell. Smelling the bacteria in your home means that your HVAC system is circulating pathogens throughout your house.

 Call us and our team will track down and eliminate the bacteria where it’s hiding. Scheduling your seasonal maintenance can prevent the problem from coming back – or even from happening in the first place.

This concludes part one of our two-part series on your HVAC system and strong odors in your home. Stay tuned for our next post where you can learn about how you can use your HVAC system to eliminate odors in your home from other sources. In the meantime, if you experience any of the HVAC smells above, take the recommended actions. If you need help getting to the bottom of your odor problem, give Arendosh Heating and Cooling a call, and we’ll help you get to the bottom of it fast. 

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