Foul smells from air conditioners are most often caused by dirt, mold and bacteria that build up within the unit. These odor-causing particles can be found on condenser coils, evaporator coils, drain pans and filters. Moisture and heat make the smells even worse, sending odors through your entire ventilation system. Cleaning the coils and drain pan, and replacing filters will eliminate most foul odors. Regular cleaning will also prevent odors from ever occurring and keep the air conditioner running efficiently.
1. Turn off the power to the air conditioner at the breaker box.
2. Open the evaporator coil cover. This is usually inside the home near the furnace or air handler and is covered by two panels in the shape of an A-frame. Some panels are held in place by screws, others simply lift out of the frame.
3. Run a stiff piece of wire through the condenser pan drain. A straightened clothes hanger works well. Push out any dirt or debris that might be clogging the drainage hole.
4. Brush away any mold or dirt in the pan, and rinse with clear water.
5. Add condenser pan cleaner to the drain pan according to the manufacturer’s directions.
6. Remove dirt, debris and moisture from the coils. Brush off obvious dirt with a soft, clean rag, then vacuum out remaining dirt with a wet/dry vacuum.
7. Spray coils with coil cleaner, following the manufacturer’s directions, to remove any remaining dirt, mold or bacteria.
8. Slide the filter out of the cooler.
9. Inspect the filter for dirt, debris and mold. If it is not clean, or has been in use for three or more months, replace the filter.
10. Replace the evaporator coil panels.
11. Remove the panel covering the condenser coils on the air conditioner unit located outside.
12. Rinse the coils with water, using a hose and sprayer.
13. Spray the coils with condenser coil cleaner.
14. Replace the panel covering the condenser coils.
15. Wait for the exterior portion of the cooler to dry.
16. Turn the power back on to the cooler.
Things You Will Need
- Wet/dry vac
- Clean dust rag
- Condenser coil cleaner
- Air filter (optional)
- Hose sprayer
- Long piece of stiff wire
- Scrub brush
- Condenser pan cleaner
Spray out or clean the fins with a fin cleaning brush while the outside panel is off of the unit to help improve airflow and efficiency.
Don’t spray water or cleaner on any electrical control panels or wires in the air conditioner.