What Causes that Burning Smell Coming from Air Conditioners?
If your air conditioner smells like burning plastic, the most likely scenario is that something is burning. Once you notice a burning smell from your air conditioner, it is important to shut off your air conditioning system, and inspect for any burning components - from the air filters to the motors, and even the heat pump if your model has a furnace feature.
Reason #1 Something is Burning
Check all electrical sockets, gas stoves, short circuits, and any area in your house that could potentially start a fire. Something burning in your home is a serious matter, and should be dealt with immediately. The smoke may be traveling through your vents, causing the fire to seemingly come from your air conditioning system.
The first thing to do when something is burning is to shut off your appliances, locate the fire whenever possible, and use a fire extinguisher to put out the flames. If the fire is getting too hot, or is in a dangerous location like the kitchen, evacuate your home immediately, and call the fire department.
Reason #2 Fleeting Smells
If you cannot find the source of the smoke in your home, and the smell has dissipated after a few minutes, then there is a chance the burning plastic smell came from external sources. A neighbor may be burning leaves or garbage, or there is a bonfire elsewhere near your home. These fleeting smells should not linger in your home, but are not alarming.
However, if you live in a forested area, you may need to check with your local fire department for any potential forest fires, which are increasingly worrisome during the hot summer months. Depending on the source of the burning smell, you may not need to worry about it affecting your home or health.
Reason #3 Burning Electrical Components
Electrical components within your air conditioner may smell like burning rubber when overheating. This can be hazardous if the electrical problem sparks jolts of electricity to your carpets, curtains, or other flammable house decor. Immediately switch off and unplug your HVAC system whenever possible, and call an electrician.
Any electrical problem with your air conditioner unit should be dealt with by a professional electrician and a Luce Aircon HVAC technician as we have the experience and training to handle potentially dangerous electrical failure in your HVAC system. Do not attempt to fix the problem yourself, and shut off the power to your air conditioner immediately.
Reason #4 Overheating Motor
The burning smell may come from an overheating belt drive motor in your AC unit. If your AC smells like burning plastic, or has a burning rubber smell, then this is most likely the case. You may feel your air conditioner is warm to the touch, hear whirring sounds from your AC unit, or notice that your unit is no longer providing cool air.
An overheating motor can be caused by a number of air conditioning issues, such as a dirty air filter, dusty evaporator coils, or other components that are causing restricted airflow around your unit. Cleaning and professional maintenance will help prevent your motor from overheating and causing the burning smell.
How to Get Rid of Burning Smell
Turn Off Your Air Conditioner
The most important practice is to turn off your air conditioner, and unplug it from the electrical socket the moment you notice a burning smell coming from your unit. This will prevent potential fires, and further damage to your unit. This will also immediately stop the burning smell, and prevent the issue from getting worse.
Call a Professional
The next step is to call a professional. Electrical problems must be handled by professional electricians, while our Luce Aircon technicians can handle any aircon problems with your unit. Have our professional HVAC technicians check your unit to find the root cause of the burning smell - proper repairs will save you from possible house fires!
Tips to Prevent Air Conditioner Smells
Tip #1 Maintain Your AC Unit with a Routine Checkup
A routine checkup is the best way to prevent any aircon problems, and should be done once every 6 months to a year. Through aircon maintenance, our technicians will be able to find and reinforce weak spots in your unit, so you don't have to worry about worn electrical connections, broken motors, and more.
Tip #2 Clean Your Air Conditioner
Cleaning your AC system can be done at home, and will help ease the stress from your unit. You can clean the filter, coils, and exterior of your AC system with a damp cloth and a mild cleaner. Mesh filters can be cleaned with soap and water, and cleaning your unit will prevent your AC from overheating.
Tip #3 Go for Reputable Aircon Service Companies
Improper cleaning and maintenance of your unit can lead to an overheating air conditioner as your unit attempts to function properly despite inadequate maintenance. Improper upkeep can also miss weak points in your AC unit that may lead to problems later on.
For a reputable aircon service company, choose Luce Aircon - your trusted partner to maintain your cooling system! Our cleaning and maintenance services will provide top quality service that will keep your air conditioning system in good working condition longer.
Check out our article on why ac smells like vinegar!