Why is There a Burning Smell Coming from My Air Conditioning?
Cool air? Great. Warm air? Ok, fine. Burning smell? Hold the phone. An acrid, burning smell is just about the worst
thing that could come out of your air conditioning system
. If it does, you have a problem.
A few issues could be at the root of this symptom. Read on to learn how to assess what's going on. Whether or not
you figure out what’s up, this is not an issue to ignore.
Dirty Air Filters
Burning smell: musty and mild
Air filters are just made of a pleated, woven paper or cloth. Sometimes, they’re made from spun fiberglass. Their only
real function is to literally filter particles out of the air. As the forced air circulates through your home, it comes back
through the filter. The filter is made to catch things like dust, pollen, allergens and even dirt.
HVAC filters, furnace filters and AC filters are all the same thing. You should be using an air conditioning filter that is
sized correctly for your AC unit. This relates to the width and length. These are custom dimensions that you can
determine by searching online with the make and model number of your unit.
When it comes to height, you may have some flexibility. In some systems, you can buy thicker air filters, which last
longer. Whatever kind of air filter you have, standard practice is to change them about once a quarter.
If your air filter becomes too dirty, it could bring the whole system to a grinding halt. This is because air needs to
maintain a steady flow to circulate through your home. If the filter is packed with particles, air can’t flow through fast
enough. This could put strain on your mechanical systems and motor, which could then let off a burning smell from
This is a super simple thing to check and fix, simply by replacing your filter. Set an alert on your phone to check and
replace the filter once a quarter. You should also schedule us for regular air conditioning maintenance. When we
come out, we’ll check not only the filter but the cleanliness of all of your ductwork as well. Keeping all of this free of
debris and buildup helps you avoid costly repairs down the road.
Broken Fan Belt
Burning smell: burning rubber
Belts drive your HVAC unit. There are several points at which these belts can wear down. Because they are in
constant motion, they are subject to abrasion and attrition. When belts start wearing down in earnest, you could end
up with metal-on-metal or high friction. All of this can cause a burning smell.
If you can access it, here are some places to check your V-belt:
- Do the grooves of the sheaves show wear or damage?
- Are the pulleys moving properly? Are they dirty?
- Are the sheave faces aligned?
- Does the belt have the right amount of tension?
An air conditioning belt that is loose, worn, touching another belt or visibly cracked is a huge problem. If you catch it
early, it may be a simple fix. Even so, it is a fix that only a qualified HVAC repair person should perform. A Strittmatter
tech can come in and thoroughly inspect your unit to see if this is the source of a burning smell.
Burning smell: sharp burning plastic or like rotten eggs
Your HVAC system runs on electricity. There are numerous mechanical, electrical and even chemical functions in play
to heat or cool your home. If any pump or motor has issues, you may get a burning smell and even be at risk for a fire.
Electrical issues aren’t something to mess around with. Here are a few electrical problems that may be the cause of a
strong smell coming out of your air conditioning unit:
- Undersized or faulty breakers
- Loose breakers
- Frayed or corroded wires
- Overloaded circuit breaker
If your air conditioner isn’t blowing cold air, your energy bill is way higher than it should be, your unit is flipping on and
off or you see visible damage on wires, you know you have an issue.
Because so many homes have also upgraded to programmable thermostats and other smart features, there are more
points along the chain to diagnose. If you suspect electrical issues, give us a call and we’ll come out and see what’s
Burning smell: strong, maybe metallic or rubber
Most air conditioners have a couple of fan motors and a compressor. The motors probably have a start capacitor and
a run capacitor. The run capacitor regulates the flow of electricity. If your capacitor has gone bad, the motor could be
taxed, which could let out a burning smell. This is also a very serious issue.
HVAC capacitors could break down for a few reasons:
- Wear and tear
- Power surges
- Circuitry overheating
Capacitor problems may be evidenced by:
- A humming or buzzing noise
- High energy bills
- No cold air
- AC turns on and off by itself
- AC simply won’t turn on or won’t turn on right away
Obviously, these are huge operational issues that impact your daily life. Don’t wait it out: get an HVAC repair person to
your Flower Mound home right away to diagnose and service your air conditioner, before something gets worse.
Hire AC Repair in Flower Mound, TX
Burning smells, no cold air, clunking noises and more are just some of the reasons you call an AC repair tech for your
Flower Mound home. Strittmatter is one of the best AC repair teams in the area. We have worked for over four
decades, helping homeowners out.
Our fully-equipped, licensed, trained tech team can tackle any heating, cooling or plumbing issue you have. We’d be
honored to be on call for you.
Tap here to learn more about our AC services.
Click here to email us
or give us a call at (940) 287-3777 to learn more.