Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell Like Feet?

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Air conditioners supposedly improve the indoor air quality by cooling the air, and filtering out dust and debris using the air filters. Scents and air fresheners can make your air conditioning system emit a floral or fruity aroma. However, a smelly air conditioner can be indicative of an underlying problem with your air conditioner.

Feet smell, also known as dirty sock syndrome, is when your air conditioner smells like someone aired out their used gym socks in your vents. The clammy odor is off-putting to say the least, but connotes problems with bacteria buildup, stagnant water, or mildew. It is difficult to pinpoint the cause of the smell without having a technician check your unit.

AC Smells Like Feet: 3 Causes of Foot Smell in AC System

Cause #1: Clammy Stagnant Water

If your air conditioner smells like feet or dirty socks, there is a high chance you have moisture problems. Your AC may be leaking water, the condensate drainage system may have overflowed, or your drain lines are clogged. All these cause bacteria to form in the water, and cause the pungent smell of feet to emit from your air conditioner.

Check your air conditioner for any signs of stagnant water. More often than not, you will notice your AC unit freeze up or leak water from its vents when overflowing with condensation. These symptoms, coupled with an air conditioner that smells like feet, indicate a blockage in your system.

The condensate pan may have overflowed with water. The simplest solution is to remove the water from the pan, and clean it with some soap and water to kill off any microbes living on the surface. Let the pan dry before placing it back into your HVAC system.

Cause #2: Bacterial Growth

That foot or sock smell coming from your air conditioning unit is emitted by bacteria colonies that thrive in moisture. These bacteria are not directly harmful, but can eat through your air conditioning system over time, and continue to emit the foul smell.

Bacteria multiplies quickly, and the microorganisms can overtake your entire air conditioning system. When dealing with bacterial growth, it is best to have the air conditioner deep cleaned to remove the odor, and kill off any bacteria living inside. Luce Aircon is a heating and cooling company that can clean and disinfect your AC unit so you can keep your home healthy!

Cause #3 Air Conditioner Mildew Smell

Another cause for your air conditioner smelling like feet is a moldy evaporator coil. Certain species of mold and mildew can emit foot-like odors instead of ammonia, which contributes to the AC smell in your air conditioning system. Clean the evaporator coil with a vacuum cleaner and some compressed air to get rid of mold, but be sure to wear a mask when you do!

If your central air conditioner smells like feet, it most likely has dirty sock syndrome brought about by mold or mildew. These fungi thrive in moist locations, and can easily spread through the air vents in your central air conditioner. You will need to contact a Luce Aircon technician to clean the entire system.

How to Remove the Foot Smell from Your AC Unit

Clean the Drain Pan

Cleaning the drain pan is much like cleaning the air filter of your AC unit. You will need to dismantle the pan from your air conditioner, and wash it under running tap water. Use an antibacterial soap to sanitize the pan, and scrub it clean with a cleaning brush. The unpleasant odor should be completely gone.

Clean the Air Conditioner

Cleaning the air conditioner will help keep odors at bay, particularly if the air conditioner smells bad due to bacteria or fungi. Cleaning the AC unit will remove these microorganisms, and prevent them from taking shelter in your home. Bacteria and fungi contribute to the majority of common air conditioner smells, so keeping them at bay should provide you with clean air.

Schedule Professional Maintenance

Professional air conditioner cleaning and maintenance will improve your overall indoor air quality. Contact a Luce Aircon licensed HVAC technician to clean and check your unit for any causes of odor, and keep your air conditioning system functioning properly.

Professional maintenance will get rid of various air conditioner smells like an air conditioner burning smell, musty odors, rotten eggs smell, and other odors by fixing the root cause of the problem. Your HVAC system will work just like new!

Maintenance will also determine external sources of the AC smells coming from your unit, like natural gas leak from your gas supply, exhaust fumes from cars passing by, and cigarette smoke smells from household members smoking indoors.

Helpful Tip: Natural gas would have a rotten egg odor. If you suspect a gas leak in your home, contact your gas company immediately and vacate the premises. Turn all electronic devices off, and cut the electrical power whenever possible.

Keeping Dirty Socks Out of Your AC System

Air conditioner maintenance has never been easier than with our cleaning and upkeep services at Luce Aircon. Our experienced and knowledgeable technicians will be able to find the underlying problem in your AC unit so you can enjoy that ever-lasting cool breeze for years to come!

Check out our article on why ac vent smells like sewage!

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