Musty odors are a common problem in many homes and in many cases, the blame lies with the A/C unit. Tasked with circulating cool air throughout your home, it can also inadvertently circulate musty odors originating from deep within the unit. The following offers some tips on how you can get to the bottom of these highly unpleasant odors.
#1: Change Your Air Filter
The simple act of changing your air filter can do wonders for eliminating musty odors, especially if it's been a while since you last had it changed. Most experts recommend changing your air filter at least every 3 months, although some recommend changing it once a month for better air quality and A/C system performance.
#2: Check and Clean the Drip Tray
Stagnant water within the drip tray can create an ideal habitat for mold and mildew, resulting in musty odors throughout your A/C system. The first thing you should do is remove the stagnant water with a shop vacuum. Afterwards, you can use a combination of mild detergent and bleach to clean and disinfect the drip tray. Don't forget to let it dry thoroughly before using your A/C system again.
#3: Check and Clean the Condensate Drain Line
Mold, mildew and debris can clog the condensate drain line over time, creating the aforementioned pool of stagnant water in the drip tray. After cleaning the tray, place your shop vacuum's nozzle firmly over the drain inlet and use the vacuum's suction to pull out the clog. Stubborn clogs may require a small plumber's snake to break apart for easier removal. Afterwards, pour a cup of bleach down the drain to disinfect the drain line.
#4: Check Your Ducts and Vents
Mold and mildew can also attach itself to your central A/C system's ducts and vents, especially if your home suffers from high humidity levels. If you see mold or mildew growing around the vents or within the vents, you may want to have a HVAC professional come in and clean the ducts and vents. Your HVAC technician will have tools that'll remove the mold effectively without damaging the ductwork.
#5: Curb Your Home's Humidity Levels
High relative humidity levels don't just make it difficult for your A/C unit to cool your home. It can also promote mold and mildew growth, which in turn causes musty odors throughout your unit. During the summertime, the ideal relative humidity for your home should be around 40 to 50 percent.
Use a hygrometer to measure and verify your home's relative humidity levels. If they're above 50 percent, you may be able to lower those levels by increasing your home's fresh air circulation (by occasionally opening windows and doors) and by investing in a dedicated dehumidifier.
#6: Give the Evaporator Coil a Good Cleaning
Mold and mildew can also collect on the evaporator coil inside of the A/C system. Not only does this prevent air from flowing past the coil fins, but it can also cause musty odors. Given how fragile the evaporator coil fins are, you should exercise caution when cleaning the coil.
Start by mixing a solution of mild detergent and warm water in a spray bottle and spray the evaporator coil. Next, gently scrub the coil surface using a brush with soft bristles. Afterwards, use warm water to rinse any remaining residue from the coil.
#7: Control Mold and Mildew with a UV Lamp
Installing an ultraviolet (UV) lamp near the evaporator coil can help control odors by controlling mold and mildew growth. UV lamps emit UV-C radiation -- the same type of radiation given off by natural sunlight. UV-C radiation disrupts mold and mildew growth and reproduction at the molecular level, making it effective at curbing the organic growth that often contributes to those unpleasant odors in your A/C system.
#8: Size Up Your Home's A/C Unit
An oversized A/C unit can bring indoor temperatures down quickly, but it won't have enough time to properly dehumidify the air in your home. Too much moisture can not only leave your home feeling clammy and uncomfortable, but it can also promote mold and mildew growth.
Consider having a HVAC professional size up your current A/C system. Your HVAC technician can determine if you need to downsize your current A/C system for better comfort, efficiency and humidity control.
For more tips, contact a company like Cape Fear Air Conditioning & Heating Co., Inc.