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Serving New Orleans and the Surrounding Areas
Available at your convenience, not ours

Serving New Orleans and the Surrounding Areas


Available at your convenience, not ours


Gowland's Heating & A/C Blog

Odd Smells From Your AC: What They Might Mean


Strange sounds can warn you of an air conditioning system in need of repair work. These noises include clanging, grinding, loud clicking, hissing, and bubbling. But your ears aren’t the only sense you can use to determine if your AC is asking for help. An air conditioner can often give off strange smells that will warn you it’s time to call the Gowland’s team for AC repair in St. Bernard, LA

Below we’ll list the most common cautionary odors and what they can mean for your air conditioner.

#1. Dirty laundry

Your first reaction to this is probably, “ick,” followed by wondering how dirty laundry got stuffed into the HVAC system. However, what you’re smelling isn’t dirty laundry but the same source of those odors: bacteria and mold. This is a common problem that ACs encounter, common enough that it has a descriptive title: dirty sock syndrome. What’s happening is mold and bacteria are growing inside the AC, probably along the evaporator coil where the most moisture collects. This not only pushes a foul odor through your home, but it also threatens the efficiency of the air conditioning system. You’ll want pros to repair it ASAP.

#2. Burning

The distinct odors of burning plastic or electrical parts warn of major problems with the AC. You don’t want to smell unexpected burning odors in your house at any time, and this is no exception. The acrid burning smell could indicate a motor that’s burning out, melting wire casings as wires fuse together, or an electrical problem with the control board. Shut off the power to the AC right away and reach out to us for help.

#3. Natural gas

Natural gas does not have an odor, but manufacturers put a chemical called mercaptan into it so people will be able to detect gas leaks. This sulfurous odor has a distinct rotten egg smell. But why would natural gas come from the air conditioner, which uses electricity to run? The answer is that the AC usually shares the same cabinet with the furnace, and if the furnace is gas-powered, any leak from it can end up blown into the ventilation system when the air conditioner runs. These leaks are bad business, and we recommend you shut off the gas, leave the house, and notify the local utility company. (Don’t call us first—we’ll help later once the immediate danger is past.)

#4. Sour trash

This might be the worst odor you can possibly smell from your AC or your house in general. It’s the kind of stench that can make people retch and feel physically ill. What’s the source? A dead animal inside the ventilation system, like a rat or an opossum. This usually isn’t an HVAC repair issue but one that requires calling animal control. (We know you don’t enjoy the idea of pulling the dead animal out of the HVAC system yourself.) You still may wish to call us to check if the animal caused damage to the ductwork: vermin are a common source of duct leaks.

Call us to handle your AC needs in New Orleans and the surrounding areas. Gowland’s Heating & A/C Values “Relationship over Revenue!”

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