Why Does the Air from My AC Smell Like Mold or Mildew?

man inspecting air duct

Does the smell of gym socks or old cheese fill the room whenever your air conditioner turns on? Can you smell a musty odor whenever you walk near your air ducts? If so, your air conditioning system most likely has some kind of mold or mildew issue. Fortunately, this a problem that can always be solved, sometimes quite easily.

Below are the most common reasons why air conditioners produce musty or moldy smells.

1. The condensate drain line is clogged.

During the cooling process, your indoor air conditioning unit removes heat and moisture from your home’s air. That moisture forms condensation on your air conditioner’s evaporator coil. From there, the condensation drips down into a drain pan and leaves your home through a pipe called the condensate drain line.

If your air conditioner goes too long without maintenance, debris like dirt and sludge can clog the condensate drain line, causing dirty water to back up into your AC’s drain pan. This stagnant moisture, combined with a dirty drain pan, can foster mold growth. The easiest solution for this problem is to unclog your drain line, clean your drain pan, and make sure your evaporator coil gets adequate maintenance.

2. The evaporator coil is dirty.

Your evaporator coil is the part of your indoor AC unit that carries refrigerant and absorbs heat from your home’s air. As mentioned above, it also collects condensation. If the coil gets dirty, mold spores will have the food, moisture, and darkness they need to grow into a bigger problem. You can solve and prevent this issue by having a technician clean your evaporator coil once a year.

3. Mold is growing in your air ducts.

This tends to be a problem with leaky ductwork. Leaks in your air ducts allow moisture to get inside, and moisture is one of the necessary components for mold growth. When you combine that with dust (AKA, mold spore food) and a lack of sunlight, mold can start spreading. To tackle this problem, you’ll get the best long-term results by getting your ducts professionally cleaned and sealed. Afterward, you’ll enjoy better air quality and also increased system efficiency.

From duct cleaning to air conditioner maintenance, our experts at Albright's Mechanical Services can assist you with any of your home’s HVAC system needs. Contact us today using our online form or give us a call at (410) 834-0148.

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