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Bayonet Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning Blog

4 Reasons Why Your AC Smells Like Vinegar

Girl pinching her nose against a white background

When your AC is emitting unpleasant odors, it’s a definite sign that something is amiss. One of the most common smells your AC might emit is the smell of vinegar. 

Here in Florida, the high humidity is almost always the contributing factor causing that stinky odor in your home. Let’s go over 4 reasons why your AC smells like vinegar. Some of the causes can be taken care of by homeowners but in some situations, you may need to call us for AC repair. Let’s explain.

1. Mold and Bacteria

One of an air conditioner’s secondary functions is to remove humidity from your home’s air which is collected and drained away from the home via a condensate line. If something is wrong with your air conditioner, some parts will stay damp, creating the perfect environment for mold to flourish. 

When this happens, the resulting mold, mildew, and bacteria growth inside the AC, condensate line, or ductwork emits a vinegary smell. If your AC is having trouble eliminating this excess condensation or if there’s a problem with the drain line, condensation can lead to mold growth in the ducts. Give us a call if you ever suspect there’s mold growth somewhere in your AC. Breathing in mold spores is hazardous to your health. 

2. Too Much Condensation

Although your AC removes condensation from the air, it’s also produced by your AC during the cooling process. The AC pulls the warm air in your home and moves it over the evaporator coils and the cooled air is distributed throughout your home. The condensation that forms on the coils collects in a drain pan and leaves through the condensate drain. 

A blockage in the drain line or a clogged air filter can cause excess condensation by restricting airflow and reducing evaporation. Clogs occur from running the air conditioner without having a filter in place, skipping annual AC maintenance, and extremely dusty or dirty conditions in your home. 

3. Dirty, Clogged Air Filter

If you haven’t changed your air filter recently and are smelling vinegar or a musty smell in your home, the first thing to check is the filter. Dirt, dust, debris, and even moisture from your home’s air can accumulate in the filter. When this happens, your AC’s airflow dwindles and the humidity within the unit increases.

Mold can form on the filter and elsewhere within your AC, causing the musty, vinegary smell. Put a mask on and remove the air filter. If there are visible signs of mold, dispose of it properly and put in a new one. If the vinegary smell continues, the mold growth is somewhere else. 

4. Ozone

If your older air conditioner was manufactured before 2010 and uses liquid coolant that produces chlorine as a byproduct, the pungent, vinegary smell could be chlorine. A damaged motor might produce more ozone than usual. Ozone is harmful to breathe in so if you have an old AC and detect a pungent smell, give us a call ASAP.

Contact Bayonet Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning to schedule AC repair in Spring Hill, FL today!

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