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The Right HVAC Unit for Your Home

A couple of months ago, the HVAC unit in my home started malfunctioning. The temperature inside my home soared to over eighty degrees Fahrenheit, even though my air conditioning system ran nonstop. After inspecting my air conditioning unit, my knowledgeable HVAC contractor recommended I purchase a new system. He discussed the pros and cons of installing different sizes of HVAC units with me. After considering my HVAC contractor’s advice, I decided to purchase a three and a half ton HVAC unit. Shortly after my HVAC contractor installed my new air conditioning unit, my house started feeling more comfortable. On this blog, I hope you will discover how an HVAC contractor can help you select the right air conditioning unit for your home. Enjoy!


The Right HVAC Unit for Your Home

Need To Diagnose And Fix Your Stinky Air Conditioner Before Winter? What Are Your Options?

by Jamie Shaw

If the air flowing from your home's central air conditioning unit has an odd odor -- whether the mildewed smell of damp towels or even the more pungent scent of ammonia or sulfur -- you may be anxious to troubleshoot and correct this issue before placing your air conditioner into hibernation for the winter. Fortunately, there are a few relatively common culprits of unexpected air conditioner odors, and correcting this issue shouldn't cost you much in the way of time or money. Read on to learn more about the potential causes of your air conditioner's odor(s), as well as what you can do to restore clean air to your home. 

Problem #1 - The air flowing from your air conditioner smells musty, like dirty socks, or sulfuric, like rotten eggs.

A mildewed smell, often termed "dirty sock syndrome," is one of the most common air conditioner odor issues and can usually be traced to a blockage in your compressor's drainage system that allows water to pool at the base of the unit and become scummy. Your first step should be to check the drainage pan at the base of your air conditioning unit. In most units, this pan should slide out without much difficulty. If you observe any water in the drainage pan, empty it and scrub any debris or spots off with a diluted bleach solution to kill mold or mildew spores. If the drainage pan is empty, you may want to find a screwdriver so that you can remove any panels around your compressor to take a closer look for pooled water. 

Although sulfuric smells are less common than moldy ones, certain types of bacteria that tend to proliferate in dirty water do give off a "rotten egg" odor. This can require an even more thorough cleaning that extends to the hoses that supply water to your air conditioner, as the presence of sulfur-smelling bacteria in the drainage pan can indicate some source of contamination -- from bacteria-laden well water to soil that's been flung inside your air conditioner by a lawnmower.  

If your air conditioner does have a scummy puddle that is left untreated over the winter, you'll notice this smell becoming much stronger when you turn your air conditioner on next spring or summer, and pooled water in an exterior compressor unit that is allowed to freeze can cause significant damage to your compressor coils and other delicate mechanical components, often leading to an expensive repair at the worst possible time of year. Don't assume that the problem has solved itself because this smell has dissipated once you've begun using your central heating system instead of the air conditioner -- as the heater draws air from a different source, it will bypass the drain pan, minimizing any odor once the "dirty sock" air has filtered its way through the vents. 

Problem #2 - The air flowing from your air conditioner has an ammonia smell, like urine.

For those who are pet owners or have small children at home, your first step should be to perform a "sniff test" at each of your home's air vents to see if one of them may have been compromised by urine. As there are few air conditioner components that can cause this specific smell, the blame can often be laid squarely at the feet of your younger or furry household members who may have urinated on or near the vent.

Unlike the odor problems caused by pooled water in the drain pan, an ammonia smell caused by pet or child urine in the vents won't go away during the winter months -- if anything, the heat traveling through your vents will make this smell even worse. To quickly minimize this odor, you'll want to create a diluted vinegar solution and spray it into any affected vents, as the vinegar should be able to neutralize the pH of the urine and minimize the smell. There are also certain commercial urine removers that may be safe for use within your ducts. While not ideal, in some cases replacing the section of vent most affected by the urine may be your best long-term odor control option. For professional assistance, contact an HVAC company like Allied Mechanical & Electrical, Inc.