5 Tips To Remove Unpleasant Smells From Air Conditioner

An unpleasant smell from your air conditioner units is not only highly unsettling to those trying to move around the area, but a potential hazard to your health and safety.

If you turn on the air conditioner on a hot day and smell a musty or strong odour, there is certainly cause for concern beyond the annoyance of bad smells. Odours could be a sign of a deeper problem with your air conditioning unit.

With that in mind, the team at Altitude Air Solutions shares these handy steps for a fresh-smelling air conditioning system. Connect with us online for more information about our air conditioning services!

What Causes Bad Smells in An Air Conditioner?

If the air conditioner smells bad, there could be several reasons. Check the following to decide whether to call in professional help:

Dirty Filters

One of the most common causes of unpleasant smells is dirty filters. They collect dust, dirt, and other particle matters that can create a musty or foul smell through your vents.

Air conditioning experts recommend cleaning or changing the filters every three months to prevent them from producing bad smells. We recommend regular maintenance schedules to prevent this issue.

Mould and Mildew

Mould and mildew are two other common causes of odours, whether through air conditioners or other infested areas of the property. Excess moisture collecting in vents and the evaporator coil facilitates biological growth.

Mould and mildew can also form in blocked drains, drain lines, and condensate lines. If you notice leaking in your air conditioner, call us right away.


Infestations of insects and other pests are another potential cause of bad smells in your cooling system. Is there animal waste or droppings? Dead things in your vents also produce a powerful odour whenever you turn on your unit.

Gas Problems

If you ever turn on the unit and smell rotten eggs or sulphur, turn it off immediately and open the windows. There could be a gas leak, and ruptured gas lines leaking into the ducts could create a significant safety hazard. We are always available to help you with any air conditioning repair issues.

Health Risks of Bad Air Conditioning Smells

It is best to treat bad smells in air conditioners as a warning sign. Many of the reasons for these odours are also potential health hazards.

For example, a dirty filter produces poor air quality because of the pollutants it harbours. It causes bad smells but also leads to headaches, nausea, and difficulty sleeping. Dirty air conditioners can also spread bacteria and viruses.

In extreme cases, your air conditioning unit might start growing fungi. If you notice any mould or other growths, be sure to call professionals for immediate assistance. Allowing them to spread to your indoor air can cause health issues. Air conditioning should have a positive impact on your health, not negative.

A bad smell could also be a sign of a deeper issue that may require costly repairs.

Getting Rid of Air Conditioner Odours: A Step-By-Step Guide

Following these steps can remove the unpleasant smell from air conditioner vents and units.

1. Turn Off the Power

Before cleaning your air conditioner, turn off the power. Air conditioners consume a lot of electricity, which can be dangerous when cleaning in and around them.

There should be a dedicated shutoff switch near the outdoor unit that will cut off the power to the unit.

2. Change Air Filters

After turning off the power, change your unit’s air filters. Air conditioning filters are typically in the air handler, so there should be an access port for them.

Most brands use disposable filters so that you can throw away the old filter. However, some filters are reusable. In this case, you can vacuum and wash the filter with vinegar and water, let it dry, and then put it back into the unit.

3. Clean Coils

Did changing the filter help with the smell? If not, move on to cleaning your condenser and evaporator coils. The dirt and dust that build up on these components can produce bad smells and reduce your unit’s energy efficiency.

Gently clean your air conditioner’s coils with a soft bristle brush and dish soap. Don’t press too hard when brushing — you might scratch and damage the coils.

4. Clean Drain Lines

The air conditioner’s condensate lines drain excess moisture that the coils might produce. Debris can block these lines, trapping water and forming mould.

Experts sometimes recommend cleaning drain lines using a mixture of white vinegar and warm water.

  • Remove the cap over the drain line.
  • Pour in the mixture.
  • Let the cleaning solution sit for half an hour.
  • Flush the drain pipe with warm water to remove any residue.

5. Clean Your Vents and Ducts

Next, consider cleaning your vents and ducts. Unfortunately, duct cleaning requires specialised tools and training, so you will need to call an expert.

Thorough duct cleaning should remove any residue or mould in your vents to eradicate the unpleasant smell in your air conditioner.

How Often Should I Clean My Air Conditioner?

If you want a pristine air conditioner, efficient cooling, and amazing indoor air quality all year round, hire an expert to clean it professionally at least once a year.

The technician will perform routine cleaning along with regular maintenance and tune-ups to prevent smells and increase your system’s lifespan.

Do you need air conditioning services in the Blue Mountains?

Altitude Air Solutions has over 15 years of experience. We take our craft seriously, so you can always expect a superior level of workmanship and customer service. If you’re in the process of buying an air conditioner, make sure to read our top mistakes people make when buying an air conditioning unit.

An unpleasant smell in air conditioner units shouldn’t be permanent — call us on 02 4753 1012 today or contact us online to schedule an appointment!

Blue Mountains Air Conditioning

Altitude Air Solutions is a family-owned and run business, servicing the Blue Mountains for over 15 years.

We specialise in all types of air conditioning delivery including split systemsreverse cycle and ducted, and commercial refrigeration.

Call us today on 02 4753 1012.