Commercial HVAC Odors

Commercial HVAC Odors

One of the first signs that the indoor air quality (IAQ) of a building is deteriorating is often the presence of unwanted odors. When detected, the immediate course of action is to track down the source and rectify whatever issue is causing it. Sometimes that cause is organic, with mold and mildew being frequent culprits. Other times it might be chemicals getting into the HVAC system.

Can HVAC Systems Cause Smells?

Sadly, HVAC systems can cause odors. There are a wide array of possible commercial HVAC odors and an equally wide array of sources. Some of the most common smells include:

  • Burning smells
  • Rotting egg-like odors
  • Varieties of chemical smells
  • Musty scents

It is also worth noting that the sources of these smells can have varying degrees of toxicity, some of them representing serious health hazards. For instance, the smell of rotten eggs usually means a natural gas leak is getting into the air system, which can be fatal.

What Does an HVAC Leak Smell Like?

A few particular odors should raise alarm bells due to their potential health impacts. The scent of antifreeze, ether, chloroform, paint thinner or sweet-seeming scents can indicate refrigerant leaks. You should contact us immediately to investigate, as this type of leak is not only an environmental hazard but also a health hazard for the people exposed to it.

Since, in many instances, the cause of chemical smells from commercial HVAC systems is most often a refrigerant leak, a complete cooling system inspection can usually track down the source. Henick-Lane, Inc. has over five decades of experience identifying and remedying odors from commercial HVAC systems.

Can Mold Smell Like Chemicals?

During the life cycle of a mold, it produces a variety of gasses referred to as MVOCs, microbial volatile organic compounds. Different MVOCs are emitted at various stages of that life cycle, each putting different odors into the air. Some of these scents can smell like chemicals. Benzene for instance is an MVOC.

How Do You Get the Smell Out of an HVAC System?

There are a number of measures you can take to eliminate odors, but serious issues require professional HVAC maintenance. That said, the following tactics undertaken regularly can help eliminate them and prevent their return.

  • Changing Air Filters

Air filters in AC systems should be changed once every one to three months, depending on how much build-up is caused or how often it’s used. With consistent air filter replacement, you can help extend the life of your cooling system.

  • Cleaning Air Ducts

Cleaning your ducts is also helpful, as debris, dust, mold, and mildew can build up. This is often the cause of that “burning smell” when the heat is fired up for the first time in the fall. Mold and mildew can also grow among the debris.

  • General On-going Maintenance

Regular ongoing maintenance, like checking for leaks, cleaning coils, etc., are the most essential ways to avoid these problems before they become serious. It will also curtail the likelihood of odor problems developing.

Henick-Lane’s IAQ Testing and Commercial HVAC Solutions

At Henick-Lane, Inc., we have spent more than five and half decades of industry experience working with every aspect of commercial HVAC systems. If your indoor air quality is troubling you, contact us online or call (718) 768-7277 now for an indoor air quality assessment. We will work with you to tailor the optimal solution for your building and help you breathe easy once more.