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Why does my AC smell like its burning?

Smoke alarm going off

As soon as you turn on the heat, do you notice a burning smell? You’re not the only one who deals with this unpleasant smell. While this can be problematic in some cases, chances are it may be something that can be fixed either by you or a HVAC technician. A list of likely reasons may help you determine what’s wrong with your air conditioning system.

Dust is burning

When you turn on the heater for the first time in a while, a burning smell may come shortly after. This smell is completely normal and will go away within a few minutes. This is common in homes that do not use the heater very often. Dust tends to accumulate in your HVAC so when your heater is turned on, the dust burns off leaving a burning odor. If you still notice a burning smell after a few minutes, then there may be another issue with your HVAC.

Clogged air filter

If you haven’t changed your air filter in a while, then there is a possibility your air filter may be clogged. When there is too much debris, airflow becomes restricted. This can cause other parts of your unit to work double time in order to compensate for a clogged air filter. To avoid this from happening, change your air filter at least once a month.

Failing electrical components

If you are smelling burning plastic or rotten eggs (sulfur), this could mean something serious. It may possibly be electrical failure within your air conditioning unit. You may smell the plastic because there are plastic components located near the wiring. The reason for this happening may be due to defective breakers, old or worn electrical connections, or short circuits. If this occurs, turn your AC system off immediately and contact your local HVAC professionals.

Faulty motor

Faulty motors can emit a burning smell. The bearings tend to wear out over time and can cause the motor to overheat. If this is the first time this has happened, turn your air conditioner off and lubricate the bearings. This will prevent the motor from burning completely out.

If you believe none of these are the issue and the burning smell does not resolve itself within a few moments, open your windows to air out your home. By doing so will avoid setting off the smoke alarm. Do not hesitate to schedule an appointment to have an AC technician inspect it.

Concerned about the burning odor? American Air Cares can help. We offer professional air conditioning service in Port St. Lucie, and have done for over 25 years.  Give us a call!


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