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HVAC Odors and How to Get Rid of Them


You expect the air circulated by your HVAC system to deliver comfort to every room in your home. However, under certain conditions unpleasant odors can also waft out in the air flowing from your HVAC registers. Identifying the cause and eliminating odors can make your home environment more comfortable and enjoyable again and prevent potential health or safety hazards too.


There are a number of possible reasons why your conditioned air might have a disagreeable odor. Here's a look at some of the most common kinds of HVAC smells, where they can originate and how to get rid of them effectively:

  • Chemical odors.Noxious fumes from household chemicals and other pollutants can circulate in your air supply if your home is well-sealed for energy efficiency. Valley can offer you solutions to improve your air quality, such as installing a whole-house air cleaner or ventilator unit.
  • Burning smells.If you're getting an odor that smells like burnt wiring, it's often a warning sign that the HVAC system's fan motor, a circuit board or other electrical component is malfunctioning and overheating. For safety, shut down your HVAC unit at the breaker in your electrical panel and call us right away.
  • Acetone-like odors.If you notice a nail polish remover-like smell, it may be due to a refrigerant leak. Contact us immediately so a technician can find and fix the leak and recharge the system with refrigerant to avert any possible harm to components like the compressor.
  • Musty or dirty sock scents.These awful odors are often caused by mold, mildew, algae or bacterial growth somewhere in an HVAC system. The culprit may be dampness and debris buildup in the ductwork, a dirty evaporator coil, clogged air filter or blocked condensate drain system. Our HVAC technician can locate the origin of the odor and clean the offending component to eliminate it.

Visit our Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical website for in-depth information on HVAC topics, or for expert help eliminating odors in your HVAC system, just give us a call at (408) 868-5500.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas of California about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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