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How to Fix A Musty Air Conditioner

If you're noticing a musty odor in your home, it could be coming from your air conditioner. Musty smells can be caused by many different factors. Luckily, this problem can be eliminated with some cleaning. Read more to learn about where these smells are coming from, and how to get rid of them.



Moisture in your air conditioner can lead to mold and mildew growth, resulting in a musty smell. A dirty air filter or clogged drain line is the most common culprit when this odor starts to develop.


A/C systems filter out tiny particles that will settle in the filter over time. This is what keeps the air in your home clean. Over time, if the filter is not changed, mold and mildew have the potential to grow when exposed to moisture. Check your system's filter. If it is dirty or clogged, this could be why your air is smelling off.


The drain line on your system is what helps remove condensation that is generated by the coils. A clogged drain can encourage mold growth around the parts in your system. Make sure you are keeping up on maintenance to prevent clogged lines.


So, now that you know what causes the smell, you’re probably wondering how to get rid of it. Luckily, there are ways to fix it yourself. However, make sure to proceed with caution to avoid causing further damage. Here are some tips for cleaning your system.


  1. Carefully remove the outer case of your system and blow compressed air towards your system from a distance to avoid any damage to the internal components.

  2. Use a brush or cloth to clean out the finer particles that build up from the front and back of your unit.

  3. Clean the vent and duct with a cleaning solution. After you have used the solution, make sure all reminisce is wiped away with water before proceeding.

  4. Rinse the drip tray to clear off any debris. Do not apply any excess pressure.

  5. Allow your unit to dry for a couple of hours, and wipe gently with a clean cloth. Reassemble the unit when it is completely dry.


If the mildew smell is very potent or has grown into places that are hard to clean, you may need to get your system professionally cleaned. If you need professional heating and cooling assistance, visit 72degrees.com or call us at 515-965-7272. We would be happy to help out!

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