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Old 08-26-2009, 01:25 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
38,744 posts, read 37,204,368 times
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Default Smelly Air Conditioning

I live in an apartment with individual unit central air. There is a smell that blows into the house when the AC is being used. It resembles wet paint smell, slightly aromatic, but also has a dusty quality to it, but no particulate is accumulating on surfaces. It's not causing any reaction symptoms, just the constant smell that goes away immediately when the AC blower is off. It seems to worsen when the AC compressor is off, and the fan is just blowing through the vents. It has been like this for about two years---at first only occasionally noticeable, but lately getting worse and continuous.

Any ideas what this might be?
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Old 08-26-2009, 09:54 AM
 
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Are you leaving the fan in the on position and is it a heat pump?
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Old 08-26-2009, 09:53 PM
 
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I guess not..
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Old 08-27-2009, 04:41 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
38,744 posts, read 37,204,368 times
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If I leave the fan on, the bad smell is worse when the AC compressor is not running. If I don't leave it on, I notice it when the AC cycles back up, as if the cause of the smell is occurring only when the air in the system is moist and warm. The building maintenance man, who is very clever and imaginative, says he is baffled by it. He has never had to clean a duct, and can think of no explanation. The air circulates through the apartment, reentering the blower and going back out through the ducts.
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Old 08-27-2009, 04:47 PM
 
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Sounds like dirty sock syndrome. Is it a heat pump? Those tend to be worse with that type of problem than straight air because a furnace gets the coil hot enough to kill the bacteria where as a heat pump never get's much above 100 for the coil temp. in general, unless of course you're running it at temps above what it should be anyways.

http://contractingbusiness.com/residential/cb_imp_6025/
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Old 08-28-2009, 12:05 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
38,744 posts, read 37,204,368 times
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I don't know if its a heat pump or not. Each apartment unit has a square thing outdoors that cycles on and off, and is connected by copper tubing to a thing in an inside closet with a fan in it, and a thermostat turns it on and off, and the fan blows either cold or hot air through ducts in the ceiling, depending on whether I set it on heat or cool. Is that a heat pump? It doesn't smell anything at all like any socks I've ever been around. It smell like wet paint. The filters get changed every month.
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Old 08-28-2009, 05:00 AM
 
27,211 posts, read 20,216,772 times
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Does it have an "emergency" heat setting? Do you have a gas bill? If you do not have a gas bill and it does have an emergency heat setting on the thermostat then it's most likely a heat pump. Have your building guy clean the coil really well with something like enviro-coil or anything other than acidic. Have you ever smelled freon? It has a sorta chemical smell like paint, i guess, but it wouldn't be doing what you're describing.
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Old 08-28-2009, 09:33 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
38,744 posts, read 37,204,368 times
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No emergency heat setting. No gas bill, but it's all electric. My unit has a history of freon leak, and the compressor was completely replaced a couple weeks ago, but the smell problem predated that.
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Old 08-28-2009, 10:02 AM
 
27,211 posts, read 20,216,772 times
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Have the maintenance guy clean your coil really good and see if that helps. If need be he may have to remove the fan and clean the squirrel cage and blades. It's not likely that the smell you are smelling is coming from the ducts but it's possible. The air coming off the evaporator coil is nearly saturated (80-90% relative humidity) every-time the outside unit comes on. So it is posible you have some strange growth but it would be rare, at least in my experience.
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Old 01-03-2014, 10:02 PM
 
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I have kinda the same issue mine smells like wet paint. When is off or the heater is on, That's when it's bad. Does my coil need to be blamed to our is it something else?
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