ac service tech looking at system

Does Your AC Smell Like It’s Burning? Here’s What to Do


Dealing with that AC Burning Smell in Your Home

woman holding her nose from a bad smellUnless you’re enjoying an evening by the fireplace, burning smells are bad – whether they’re coming from overly-crisp pork chops on the grill or your dryer vents!

Sometimes, the culprit isn’t in the kitchen, however. Some homeowners may find that their AC system is behind the icky burning smell invading their home. To stay safe and prevent unnecessary air conditioner damage, it’s important to know what to do when you encounter this problem. Today, we’re going to be going over the different types of burning smells that can come from your AC, what’s behind the odor, and what to do for your HVAC! Stay tuned for our expert guide to burning smells caused by your air conditioner.

What’s Causing that Gross Smell?

If your AC smells like a fire, it’s probably got you concerned – and for good reason. There are several different causes of mysterious AC odors, and some of them can be dangerous. That’s why it’s important to know how to identify the cause of the odor (and what to do about it). Most of the time, burning smells are caused by overheating, fan belt problems, or electrical components. We’re going to check out each of these and break down what’s going on inside your system.

NOTE: If you’re turning on your heater for the first time in the winter, many times you’ll find that the dust on the system creates a burning smell that dissipates after 5 to 10 minutes. In this case, you just have to wait for the smell to go away – it’s not dangerous!

Your System is Overheating

changing out air filter for ACDoes your air conditioner smell like it’s burning? Chances are, you probably have an overheating issue. If it doesn’t smell like rubber or plastic, the root cause of the problem is most likely a clogged air filter.

When the air filter in your AC becomes clogged, it restricts airflow and causes the blower motor to work much harder – resulting in overheating and burning smells that can make their way through the vents and into your home. To remedy the situation, try replacing your air filter first. If the bad odor is still around, then you may need to replace your blower motor specifically to address the issue.

Your System Needs a New Fan Belt

If the burning smell from your air conditioning unit smells like rubber, then the problem could very well be an old fan belt that has broken down. If your system employs a traditional belt-drive blower—as opposed to a newer direct-drive blower—then its rubber belt can suffer wear down or melt over time due to regular use. Fortunately, this issue is quite easy to resolve: just call an HVAC professional to come and replace the worn-down belt. In no time at all, you’ll have that familiar cool air back in your home, free of any pungent odors!

Your System Has Electrical Problems

hazardous electrical signIf you’re experiencing a melting-plastic or sulfur smell coming from your air conditioning, it’s most likely an issue with the electrical components in your system. Electrical problems like worn connections, loose parts, short circuits, and bad breakers can create a burning plastic smell from your AC. Overheating or faulty electrical parts are not only hazardous to the functionality of your HVAC system but pose a greater risk and can cause an electrical fire in your home if ignored. When this happens we suggest turning off your HVAC system immediately and calling for emergency service from a local air conditioning company. Don’t take chances with your safety – get help right away!

Calling Right Time to Fix Your AC Burning Smell

If the smell doesn’t go away (or if it’s caused by something dangerous, like electrical failure), then it’s definitely the Right Time to call for service! With a little help from the experts at Right Time HVAC, you can get back on track for comfort and a better-smelling home. Call today if you’re having trouble with your AC, need seasonal service, or are in the market for a new system. We do it all!




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