Why Your HVAC Smells Musty

You turn on your air conditioner or crank up your heater. A few hours later, when your HVAC system has had a chance to run for a bit, you notice a gross musty smell circulating throughout your home. The mildew smell can be tracked to your air ducts. You’re not only holding your nose but also scratching your head, wondering what you can do about the smell. No worries, here’s what to do when your HVAC smells musty!

Why Your HVAC Smells Musty

To put it simply, the dirty socks smell you’re encountering is due to bacterial growth that forms on the evaporator coil, the drain/drip pan and the drain line of the A/C. The evaporator coil usually sits in a dark, humid place (especially humid in places like Ohio) where all kinds of mold and mildew can grow and thrive – which is what causes the musty smell. 

What Can You Do About the Musty HVAC Smell?

You may think you can just give your ductwork a good cleaning. While you definitely should, since the microbial growth has likely spread into your ducts if you’re smelling it throughout your home, you actually want to start at the source – the evaporator coil. 

The first step in getting rid of the dirty socks smell is actually preventing it. This is part of the reason why an annual HVAC tune-up is advised, so you can be proactive about keeping your coil and HVAC system clean and working efficiently. By regularly cleaning your evaporator coil and treating your drain line, the musty smell can be prevented. 

If you haven’t already had an HVAC professional come out to clean and perform an annual HVAC tune-up, be sure to schedule an appointment to improve the air quality within your home. 

What if you’re already being proactive about cleaning in the spring and fall? 

Sometimes even the most diligent cleaning isn’t enough, especially in moist, humid climates such as what we have in Ohio. Bacterial and mold growth can still occur. While this may not be a major concern for most people, people with asthma, compromised immune systems, and homes with children (who have developing lungs) are at risk for respiratory problems associated with this problem. 

For situations where you’re having difficulties controlling mold and mildew, you may want to invest in indoor air quality products that can be installed into existing HVAC systems. These accessories can kill any remaining mold and mildew and prevent new growth. 

For more information about indoor air quality products, contact A-Abel Heating & Air to discuss options for your home needs. 

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