Funny Smell Coming From Your Attic

Hi everyone! This time we want to talk to you about smells.

Yes, really!

A Common Call We Receive in Springtime

It’s not uncommon for us to get calls about funny smells from our customers when they start turning their air conditioners on in the spring.

What usually happens is that the air conditioner parts, specifically the evaporator coil, have gotten dust on it during the winter months. Then when you turn on your air conditioner for the first time and the coil gets cold and starts to condense water, sometimes that water will react with the dust to make a funny smell. Some people say this is a smell like dirty socks. Other people say it’s kind of a weird, sweet smell.

This is usually nothing to be concerned about, and the smell will go away once the dust washes off.

Ladder leading up to a customer's attic

In The Fall Season

This is the same kind of thing that happens in the fall when you turn your heater on for the first time. This is especially true if you have electric heating, with resistance coils that get red hot. During the summer, when you’re not using the coils, dust accumulates on them. The same thing happens with gas furnaces and heat exchangers, too—they get dusty, then get hot and have a burning dust smell.

If you have a heat pump, sometimes in the middle of winter if it’s very cold your heat pump will go into a defrost cycle. Here in Texas, we might go the whole winter without ever getting cold enough to put your heat pump into a defrost cycle! But when it does get cold enough to hit the defrost cycle, the flow of refrigerant gets reversed. The coil inside that was getting hot gets cold for a minute, and then you get condensation again! And once again, the dust reacts with the water and you get a bit of a smell.

Your Next Step

The attic tent is made of insulating fabric. We install a collar around the opening to your attic, and then the “roof” of the tent zips onto the collar. When you want to get into your attic, just unzip the roof! Then zip it again when you come out of the attic. This keeps hot attic air inside the attic and allows less of it to come into your garage or home.

Your Next Step

Those are the main calls we get about smells, and they aren’t anything to worry about. Now, if you smell something that smells like plastic or rubber burning, you probably need to call us at (972) 423-1279.