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Is Your Cooling System Emitting A Musty Odor? Here's How To Clean Your Air Conditioning Unit To Stop It

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Musty odors blown from your air conditioning unit are the result of microorganisms growing somewhere inside the unit, such as mold and bacteria. When the unit is turned on, mold spores and waste products from the bacteria are blown around your home, which causes the musty odor. It doesn't mean anything is mechanically wrong with your air conditioner; the inside of the cooling system is the perfect environment for mold growth under normal operating circumstances. Here are the steps to take to clean your air conditioning unit, kill the bacteria, and stop the source of your air conditioning odor.

Flush The Drain Pipes And Clean The Drain Pan

The most common place for mold and mildew to hide in your central air system is in your drain pipes and your drain pain. Your air conditioner uses these to get rid of condensation that is formed during normal operation of the unit. Sometimes these pipes will clog with algae, especially in areas with high humidity. Some air conditioning units, especially those installed in the attic, will have two drain pipes. The primary pipe exits outside, while the secondary pipe exits into the drain pan. Other air conditioning units have one pipe leading to the drain pan. You can clean your drain pipes by unscrewing their caps and pouring either bleach or white vinegar down the pipe, which will kill algae and mold. The drain pan can be removed and washed with warm, soapy water.

Clean The Evaporator Coil

Mold and bacteria can also grow on the evaporator coil inside the evaporator unit. This is especially common when your central air system is used to both heat and cool your home in the same day; warm, humid air blown over the evaporator coil provides an excellent breeding ground for microorganisms. To clean your evaporator coil, you'll need to use a special foaming cleanser. Don't use vinegar or soap, since these can cause pitting and corrosion on the surface of the coil. Make sure your drain pipes are free of clogs before you clean your coil with foaming cleaner, because it will turn into a liquid and exit through your drain pipe.

Check Your Air Ducts For A Mold Infestation

If cleaning your drain pipes, drain pan, and your evaporator coil didn't fix the musty odor coming from your air conditioner, the problem is likely mold growth in the air ducts of your home or around your registers. Call an HVAC contractor to inspect and clean your air ducts; they have specialized equipment such as cameras to easily inspect the entirety of your ducts and will use proper safety procedures when cleaning mold from your home. If you attempt to clean mold on your own, you may end up making the problem worse by spreading the spores around your house.

When you notice a musty smell coming from your air conditioner unit, it's important to deal with it right away and not attempt to live with the smell, since it's a sign that mold and mildew is being blown around the inside of your home and reducing your air quality. This can aggravate allergies and even cause respiratory illness, especially in children and the elderly. If you do not feel comfortable maintaining your cooling system yourself, click here for information and call an experienced HVAC professional to come to your home to inspect your unit and fix the issue causing your musty odors.