These HVAC Smells Are Not Something to Worry About

Weird smells can be disconcerting, particularly when they come from a major appliance. What do unusual HVAC smells mean? Do you need to call a technician? Do you need to call 911? Relax. There’s a good chance it might be nothing. Here are a few common HVAC smells that shouldn’t worry you.

Burning gas.

As far as HVAC smells go, this is one of the most disconcerting, but it’s probably harmless. As your system sits idle during the offseason, it accumulates dust. The first time you turn it on in winter, the dust starts to burn off. Give it a few minutes and the smell should dissipate. If it doesn’t, then turn the system off and call for repairs.

Cigarette smoke.

If someone in your house smokes, the smoke can permeate your HVAC coil, causing the air to be infused with the smell before being distributed through your home. To get rid of it, clean the coil and only smoke outdoors, away from your AC unit.

Mold and mildew.

Your AC produces a lot of moisture. If it’s not drained properly, mold and mildew HVAC smells can get blown throughout your house. The odor may also smell like feet. Try changing the air filter. If that doesn’t work, call your HVAC technician to clean the system and make sure it’s draining properly.


For this one, you will need to call someone, but even so, it’s not dangerous. If a bird, rodent, or other animal gets into your ductwork and dies, it causes a rotting, decomposing smell. You’ll want to call your HVAC technician to remove the carcass from your system and dispose of it properly.

There are some HVAC smells that are cause for alarm. Chief among them: a smell of rotten eggs. This indicates a gas leak, i.e., carbon monoxide. If you smell this, get everyone out of the house immediately and then call 911, followed by the gas company.

For help taking care of the HVAC smells that are worth worrying about, contact us at NisAir Air Conditioning and Heating. We serve the home-comfort needs of Martin, Palm Beach, and Indian River counties.

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