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How to Remove Musty Odor from Air Ducts

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How to Remove Musty Odor from Air Ducts Blog Post

We’ve all been there. Sitting on the sofa -diving into your favorite show- when all of a sudden, a musty odor makes your nostrils flare-up.

If this sounds like something you’re dealing with or even something you’d love to avoid in the future, you’ll want to pay very close attention to what we have to say. We’ll be looking at a few variables in play when learning about how to remove odor from air ducts, so you’re definitely in the right place.

We’ll be going over some of the best ways to remove musty odor from air ducts such as:

  • Checking for mold
  • Installing duct filtering pads within your vents
  • Tackling the odor at the A/C unit itself
  • Some common DIY tips to remove musty odor
  • When to look for a professional for help
  • The cause of musty odors in air ducts

We know that we’ll be going over quite a bit of information today, so if you ever feel a bit lost or confused, please feel free to refer back to this article as a guide.

Now, sit back, relax, and get ready to learn about how to remove odor from air ducts.

How to Remove Mold

If you want to figure out how to remove musty odor from air ducts, you’ll want to start by looking out for mold. Checking for mold is ideal because your A/C will generally create a form of moisture within the condenser coils and drip pan. This may be a necessary evil that allows your air conditioner to do its job, but it also creates an ideal location for mold to grow.

So when it comes to checking for mold, you’ll want to check out your condenser coils, drip pan, and even your air ducts. This can be done by analyzing your A/C unit, and if you do happen to find mold, you’ll want to clean it out.

Here are some conventional methods to remove mold from your A/C unit:

  • Mix a cup with bleach
  • Add about one tablespoon dish soap
  • Add 3 gallons of warm water
  • Shut the A/C unit down
  • Use a damp rag and wipe the unit clean
  • Make sure the bleach solution is cleared before you turn the unit back on

Now, if you happen to spot mold within your actual air ducts, all you need to do is follow the same steps that we’ve shown you. Pretty easy, right? If that still fails, and a musty odor is still leftover, you can always install a duct filtering pad within your vents. This will soak up the smell, and make the air you breathe much cleaner.

Once you complete these steps and clear your unit of mold, that musty odor you smell should dissipate. Don’t let mold ruin your day, and take the fight to the mold.

Clean out your evaporator coils

When it comes to learning about how to remove musty odor from air ducts, sometimes the issue lies within evaporator coils and drainage plug. Now, if you’ve narrowed the problem down to your evaporator coils, you’ll want to take a look at this section. Evaporator coils are located within your A/C unit, and their location and function create a pretty good environment for dust and mold to grow.

So how do you clean these coils? Or even the drip pan?

Well, for the drip pan, at least, all you need to do is make sure that the drainage plug is working correctly. Once you clear any buildup within the plug, you’ll notice that water will begin to flow more freely. This will make it much harder for mold to grow, and it’s a pretty simple way to clear away that musty odor.

When you take a look at your evaporator coils, check for dust. This is because dust buildup on these coils can be quite a common occurrence, and a damp rag should be able to solve the problem. If you fire the system back up and the smell is gone, well, you’ve officially fixed the problem.

While we may be focusing on the air ducts part of the musty smell equation, more often than not, the problem lies within the actual unit or the external parts of the unit. So if you clean the air ducts, and still catch a whiff of must, the problem may be a bit bigger than you thought.

That worse than must smell

If you start to smell a putrid smell coming from your air ducts, you’ll want to pay very close attention to this section. We’ll be the first to tell you that mold is one thing, while a deceased animal is a whole different issue. So let’s take a look at how this happens and how to deal with it.

If you smell a putrid smell a smell that smells way worse than a brief whiff of mold- you might want to check your A/C unit for a dead animal. All types of birds, squirrels, rats, mice, and more can end up stuck within the A/C unit. This will cause death, and with that death comes a very rancid smell.

If you want to clean up this issue and get back to enjoying the smell of a clean home, you’ll need to remove the body. Here are some steps on how to approach this rather grim situation:

  • Always wear gloves when handling dead or sick animals
  • Call pest control to help you remove any dead animals
  • If the animals are alive -call pest control or an exterminator

If the smell is genuinely rancid, you might be dealing with an animal problem -not a mold problem.

Why does it smell so bad?

If you’re frustrated with the smell or are just genuinely curious about why it smells so bad, you’ll want to pay close attention to this section. Now, with that being said, let’s take a quick look at some of the reasons.

If it smells rancid:

  • A putrid or rotten smell is usually present with an animal infestation or a dead animal (caused by waste)

If it smells musty:

  • Mold is usually the winner here because when mold sends out spores, they release an odor
  • When dust becomes abundant, it can taint the air coming through your air ducts (this can also make the air seem very dry)

If it smells like something is burning:

  • If you happen to notice a burning smell you should always shut the system down (a malfunction usually causes this)

When it comes to odors and air ducts, those are the major causes.

Seeking out professional help

We’ve all been there. Sweat is pouring down your face, you’re tired, and you’re defeated. You’ve tried absolutely everything, and nothing worked. While this may feel demoralizing, it doesn’t mean that this is your fault. Sometimes -despite our best efforts- a problem is too much to handle. When you feel like this, don’t you dare give up, because help is only a phone call away.

In Conclusion

We know that we went over a lot of information, but we always want to make sure that you’re as well informed as possible. So if you’ve missed anything, please feel free to refer back to this article as a guide. When it comes to dealing with a musty odor coming from your air ducts you’ll want to deal with this issue sooner rather than later. With mold, animals, and even dust, those odors can bring quite a bit of health risks with them as well. 

If you need the  best air conditioning services in San Antonio, Houston, or any of the areas in-between, give us a call today at (210) 380-8000

Henry Rodriguez

Henry Rodriguez

Henry Rodriguez is the owner of Texas Air Repair with physical locations in San Antonio and Houston.

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