You rely on your HVAC system to make your home a comfortable haven. If your conditioned air suddenly has an odd or unpleasant smell, your comfort can quickly decline. Locating the source and eliminating odors that originate in the HVAC system can restore your comfort, and it can protect everyone in the household from potential health and safety hazards too.

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Your HVAC air output can carry a bad smell for a variety of reasons, but before you can get rid of the odor, you’ll need to pinpoint the source. Keep in mind that not all unpleasant odors are caused by malfunctions within the HVAC itself. Scents can be picked up by your unit and distributed throughout the house, causing the illusion that the HVAC is to blame for the scent.

Here are some common kinds of HVAC odors and their likely origins, and some advice on how to get them resolved:

Chemical Scents

If your conditioned air has a distinct chemical smell, it likely contains a buildup of off-gassed VOCs from everyday household products and materials. To get rid of the odor and improve your air quality, ask your HVAC professional about installing a ventilation system or adding an air-cleaning unit to your HVAC system.

Acrid Burnt Odors

This kind of metallic scent is usually an indicator that electrical components in your HVAC system are overheating, like a capacitor, circuit board or motor. To prevent a fire, shut down the system until your HVAC technician can investigate what’s wrong and fix the problem.

Lingering Scents


If not properly maintained, parts within your HVAC system are more susceptible to producing unpleasant odors. Keep a close eye on these areas of your HVAC system to prevent bad odors before they start:

Air Ducts

Tears in air ducts can allow outside odor to creep in, eventually being filtered into the interior of your home. Alternately, if water damages the air ducts mold can grow, causing a musty smell.


Regularly changing your air filter can cut back on bad odors being spread around your house by your HVAC. You should change your air filter every 90 days.

If you have pets this drops to every 60 days and if you use your space as a vacation home it jumps up to every six months.

In cases where inhabitants have allergies or multiple pets, it’s wise to change the filter every 45 days.

When to Change Your Air Filter
Vacation HomesEvery 180 Days
Average HouseEvery 90 Days
Homes with PetsEvery 60 Days
Multiple Pets or AllergiesEvery 45 Days
Full Set~26 months


Some odors are out of your control. Others, however, have everything to do with your own bad habits. By changing your HVAC-related habits you can improve your air quality and cut down on strange scents taking over your house.

Regularly change your air filterTurn on exhaust fans when showering or cookingUse HVAC odor blockers to eliminate bad scentsClean your home often to remove strange smells


As a homeowner, you have to learn the line between a problem you can fix and when you need to call in the pros for assistance. If you notice an alarming scent like the rotten egg smell discussed above then immediately contact your HVAC professional.

Some scents come with easy solutions. But if any odors persist despite your efforts to resolve the issue this is another sign that the solution may be outside your scope of abilities. Make sure that whoever is hired to fix your problem is certified and holds the required permits.

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Our goal is to help educate our customers in Orlando, Florida and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For expert help, eliminating odors in your Orlando home’s HVAC systems, contact us by filling out the form below.