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Musty Odor from Air-Conditioner...what to do?

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Musty Odor from Air-Conditioner...what to do?

Postby semperfiguy » June 12, 2012, 10:23 am

I recently had my one year old A/C serviced for the second time in one year. When it starts getting that musty odor, that usually signals that it is time for a good cleaning. Upon visual inspection one will observe an accumulation of dust and shed skin particles that have formed a moldy looking gunk all over the vents of the fan tube. It has now been only one week since the servicing, and the musty odor is back. I have recently been diagnosed with bronchitis, and I can't help but think that with the A/C positioned at the head of my bed and spewing out this bacteria all night long, this has to be the cause of my throat/lung inflammation.

During servicing the technician topped off the freon in the line. The smell is so bad at times that I'm just wondering if there is good or bad quality freon or another gas that he could have substituted that would give off an industrial poison that would be making me feel so unhealthy these days.

Has anyone else out there had a similar experience, and what can be done to cut down on that musty smell? Could a freon leak on the wall unit be responsible for the smell? The smell is not present when the unit is compressing...only when the compressor has kicked off and the fan is blowing.
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Musty Odor from Air-Conditioner...what to do?

Postby maaka » June 12, 2012, 12:07 pm

Most Freons were phased out after the Montrel Accord which is some years old now, and replaced by R-410A, a mixture of difluromethane..however, if you are using R-410A, you need specially design parts to handle it, as it works under high pressure..if it was leaking it would have a faint ethanol smell..apparently it is non toxic if inhaled, by as a cold gas can cause a type frostbite...your not suffering from frostbite are you Semi ?

a man with your numerous aliments should cut back to O Natural, go back to the electric fan..
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Musty Odor from Air-Conditioner...what to do?

Postby parrot » June 12, 2012, 12:54 pm

We just had our 15 month old ACs serviced by Nimit Air. Their service included a pressure spray water cleaning of the innards of the ceiling unit (they do so without spilling a drop on surrounding areas), and outdoor unit. If your recent service didn't include a thorough cleaning of the indoor unit, you might want to have it done by someone else.

It's possible that musty smell is coming from a moldy shoe, belt, or other leather item in one of your bedroom closets.....or worse yet, if your closet is pressed wood, it's possible the mold has gotten into the innards of the closet itself.

We had musty smelling problems a few years ago.....until we decided enough was enough and ran our AC more to dehumidify than to cool. Since that time, and especially since we upgraded to more efficient inverter ACs, our problems have disappeared.
Good luck on your culprit search.
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Musty Odor from Air-Conditioner...what to do?

Postby JimboPSM » June 12, 2012, 12:58 pm

maaka wrote:... a man with your numerous aliments should cut back to O Natural, go back to the electric fan..

Have to agree on fans - if used appropriately they are generally healthier than A/C.

Providing it is not unbearably hot I have always found it more comfortable to use (if available) the old fashioned ceiling fans at their lower speeds, this gently moves the air in the room and helps to keep you cool but without causing the kind of draughts which are likely to produce other aches and pains.

Amongst the various advantages are that they use considerably less electricity and don’t dry out the air which can cause other respiratory ailments - a big disadvantage of ceiling fans can be found when they are installed in low rooms and you stick your hands up in the air :oops:

If it is unbearably hot, you could try cooling the room with A/C for a couple of hours before going to bed and switching the A/C off and a fan on when you do go to bed.

I got to like ceiling fans years ago in Asia and Africa before A/C became common place – sometimes modern technologies are not as good for us as the older technologies they replaced :-k
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Musty Odor from Air-Conditioner...what to do?

Postby jimboLV » June 12, 2012, 1:36 pm

I partially agree with PSM and Maaka on the use of fans. Although I wouldn't want to live here without A/C. We use fans a lot, especially the ceiling fan which is high in the ceiling as we have a vaulted ceiling. Most times we leave the doors and windows open and by manipulating another portable fan we get a pretty good air flow which keeps the house comfortable. We only turn on the A/C in late afternoon on the hottest days and turn it off later or at bedtime. I never run the A/C in the bedroom all night. Instead I set the timer on the A/C to one hour, then it shuts itself off.

I too have bronchitis. It has eased considerably since moving to Thailand as compared to when I lived in Nevada with a typical hermetically sealed, heavily insulated house with central air that was on 24/7. In retrospect I have to believe that the air in the house was unhealthy. And wall to wall carpeting helped contribute to the growth of mold and all sorts of nasty stuff.

Like Parrot I had our unit in Udon serviced and they took the wall unit off, took it outside and pressure washed it. So Merch if they didn't do that to yours that could be the source of the problem. Good luck.
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Musty Odor from Air-Conditioner...what to do?

Postby semperfiguy » June 12, 2012, 1:56 pm

Thanks guys...I appreciate the replies thus far. I have a tendency to agree with all of you that the fan is probably much healthier than blowing the A/C all day and night; however, that is one of those luxuries that I just can't do without here in Thailand. I've tried doing the fan for the past two years, but I just can't get acclimated to the humidity in the air, and all the fan does is blow it around while I'm sweating.

The A/C serviceman did clean both the inside and outside units thoroughly (I stood over him like a hawk just to make sure), so I still can't figure out the current musty smell. My wife and I are both neat/clean freaks, so there's nothing else in the house that's moldy. Maybe I can look for Lysol or some other generic anti-bacterial spray and give the coils and filter a good dose of it once a week or so and see if that helps. The internet gives only advice on musty odor from bacteria buildup in drain pans attached to the interior units of central H/AC units, but to my knowledge there is no pan on the wall units in Thailand where condensation could back up and breed bacteria. I believe it just drains directly into a pipe and out the side of the house, so nowhere to back up.
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Musty Odor from Air-Conditioner...what to do?

Postby parrot » June 12, 2012, 2:22 pm

Put a container under the drain pipe.......if your ac is on for the evening, you should get a good 2-5 liters of water in the container. If not, either your pipe is plugged from slime (but that would likely result in a drip indoors), or your unit isn't properly dehumidifying.

On most newer style ACs, you can select DEHUMIDIFY. When you select such, you can't control the temperature, but you will definitely remove more water.

Our 18k inverter in the master bedroom removes on average 3liters of water per 9 hours of daily use.
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Musty Odor from Air-Conditioner...what to do?

Postby randerson79 » June 12, 2012, 4:14 pm

I had the same problem with my unit. We used it during the night only and turned it off first thing in the morning. I noticed the inside of the unit never dried out. It's a cheap LG unit. I then noticed my nicer Mitsubishi's inside fan ran about an hour after the compresser turned off to dry it out. So I now leave the LG on fan only for about an hour each morning. Have not had a problem since.
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Musty Odor from Air-Conditioner...what to do?

Postby arjay » June 12, 2012, 5:01 pm

We too use our (Daikin) AC units for only about an hour or so when we first go to bed. In addition to that we use a ceiling fan which stays on all night long. We don't have any musty smells from any of our AC units. They are serviced about once in 3 years.

Noting the reference to the dehumidifying on modern AC units, that brings a couple of questions to mind:

1. Am I not right in thinking that the dehumidifying mode on AC units is only of very limited (dehumidifying) affect?

2. Thus are they worthwhile using to dry the air in rooms and reduce incidence of must or mildew?

3. Would I be right in thinking that used the dehumidifying mode, it would consume a lot less electricity (than when in the cooling mode) as I note the compressor cycles in a lot less?
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Musty Odor from Air-Conditioner...what to do?

Postby bluejets » June 13, 2012, 8:05 am

Musky odors can be removed from refigerator interior by using vanilla so I would imagine the same would work if you wash the filters in the same solution.
Perhaps even give the fins behind the filters on the internal fan coil unit the same treatment with a paintbrush dipped in vanilla. Just make sure you turn of the system first and don't go ape and splash it into any electrical component areas.
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Musty Odor from Air-Conditioner...what to do?

Postby maaka » June 13, 2012, 11:05 am

its not a lizard dead in the back of the AC is it Semi ? I believe a sliced onion on a plate will get rid of new paint smells, so it might work for musty misteries....
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Musty Odor from Air-Conditioner...what to do?

Postby semperfiguy » June 13, 2012, 11:28 am

Well, I took the counsel of many of you and set my A/C in the bedroom to go off 30 minutes after sleeping and come on 30 minutes before awakening, and I blew a fan in between. With the outside temps now down in the mid 70's at nights, the wife and I slept comfortably all night long. I'll continue with this routine and possibly save an extra 1200-1500 baht a month on the electric bill. As a side benefit I immediately noticed that I didn't wake up all night to drink from my water bottle by the bed. I had previously believed that my meds were drying my mouth up at nights, but now I can clearly see that since I sleep with my mouth open (nose stops up while sleeping, and mouth opens up automatically) the A/C was drying up the saliva in my mouth as well as giving me bags under my eyes. So, you guys made a believer out of me for the time being so far as it being healthier and more economical to sleep without the A/C blowing all night long. Hope this hasn't been too much information, but the results of my experiment might just turn on the light for someone else out there. Thanks for all the great advice!
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Musty Odor from Air-Conditioner...what to do?

Postby AEG » December 29, 2012, 11:13 pm

What the AC cleaning boys do doesn't really last more than about 48 hours if u have a fungal infection in the AC unit.

Make sure your AC fan is on automatic (let the unit control its speed don't set it manually) and try not to set the temperature too high 24 deg is good.

When the compressor is running moisture is removed from the AC and deposits on the condenser fins and drips in the condenser pan draining out through its drain line. When the compressor stops if the fan still runs the same moisture that was removed from the air now re-evaporates into the air and blows back in the room together with any fungal spores and and dirt the AC has collected. Most ACs are designed to stop the fan when the compressor stops or when the condenser coils reach a certain high temperature this is to minimize re-evaporation (not so for inverter types). If you set your fan manually you are bi-passing this feature and end up blowing dirty back into the room's air.

Keep your temperature low 24 deg or if installing new, size your unit to be a little less than necessary rather than a little more as the salesman will inevitably try to make you do. U can also try disinfecting your condenser (inside unit) with a mild mix of water and bleach then rinse it through thoroughly and leave the fan running to dry the coils and remove any remaining bleach smells. Keep in mind that breach will tend to rot your AC a bit faster than normal wear and tear however it will kill bacteria and any fungal growths you may have in water tray, coils or drain line. You may have to do this every 4 week for the first 3 or 4 month if u have a fungal infection, since spores will tend to spread around the room and find their way back into the AC condenser where they will grow in the moisture there when the AC unit is switched off and warms up. Artificially creating quality air is not an easy task specially if u live in a polluted city.

If u live where outside air is clean... turn off the AC switch on the fan!!

Good luck

Tony
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Musty Odor from Air-Conditioner...what to do?

Postby KHONDAHM » December 30, 2012, 5:16 pm

No, no, no...

What you want to do is take your filter out, clean it, then soak it in white vinegar for a minute. A 50/50 vinegar water solution is fine, but straight or near-straight white vinegar works best for the initial cleaning. Then, you want to keep a spray bottle of vinegar/water handy at all times. Clean the inside of the A/C with a few squirts as best you can reach. Then, with the A/C running, squirt a little solution into the intake (aka return) weekly or monthly depending upon usage. Frequent usage, do it monthly. Occasional usage, do it weekly.

You will never have mold problems from then on and the air will be spring fresh. Cheers!
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