Eliminating The Odors Coming From Your Central Air Unit During First Uses

It's finally time – time to shut down the furnace and get the AC ready for use. One problem that many homeowners run into is odors coming from their AC when it's turned on for the first few times each season. Here, you'll find a few tips that will help you avoid those bad smells filling up your home this spring and every spring here on out.

What's The Smell?

What smell did you experience last year? Was it a musty, moldy smell, or was it the burning of some sort of animal urine coming through the system?

If the smell was just a musty, moldy odor, you'll be able to eliminate the problem by changing the filters and having your ductwork cleaned out. If the odor was more of a burning animal urine type smell, you'll have a little more work to do.

You see, dogs, cats, and other wildlife tend to go around and mark their territories. Typically, the animals mark their territory by spraying it with urine. When the air conditioning unit kicks on and heats up for the first few times during the season, the urine heats up and is carried through the ductwork and into your home.

How to Eliminate Animal Urine on Central Air Conditioning Units

To clean the animal urine off of the central air unit, you'll need a few things – a hose, a large jug of urine enzyme cleaner, a screwdriver and a softer-bristled scrub brush (a paintbrush will work in a pinch).

  • Remove the screws holding the side of the unit in place. Set the screws in a jar to prevent loss.
  • Use the brush to brush away cobwebs and debris.
  • Pour the cleaning solution into a spray bottle and coat the entire surface of the unit, paying special attention to the lower half of the unit since that's where most of the urine is most likely caked on.
  • Walk away and allow the cleaning solution to dry. As it dries, it kills the enzymes in the urine that causes the odors.
  • Return and rinse the entire unit with the hose – be careful that you don't use too much pressure and damage wiring.
  • Replace the cover and test the unit.       

If this doesn't do the trick, you'll need to talk with your HVAC repair technician for assistance. There may be something stuck in the system somewhere, and the smell won't go away until you find it. He or she will assist you in finding the problem and coming up with a solution.