What To Do When Your Air Conditioner Is Blowing Smoke

air conditioning vent with ac unit that is blowing smoke

To be comfortable at home during the summer months, it’s important to ensure that your HVAC unit is working properly and efficiently. If you notice any issues, such as strange AC unit smells or your air conditioner blowing smoke, this is a sign that something is wrong. You can carry out some light troubleshooting or contact a qualified HVAC technician to help you. Getting professional help is recommended for a proper diagnosis and to ensure any necessary maintenance or repairs are carried out.

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Why Does Your Air Conditioner Emit Smoke?

Below, we’ll look at some common reasons your air conditioner may emit smoke from the vents.

1. Condensation In The Heater Box

image of condensation coming from air conditioner

Do not assume that something is burning when you see white smoke coming from your air conditioning unit. Most of the time, the “white smoke” is not really smoke but fog resulting from condensation. To verify that you are dealing with fog rather than smoke, confirm whether there is any smell.

When the air conditioner pulls in warm air, the air cools and condenses inside. The condensation can build up in the heater box and turn to vapor to escape with the cooled air. The result is a smoke-like emission from the vents. The condensed air can accumulate in the heater box for various reasons, including a blocked drain.

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2. Cold Dry Air From The AC Unit  Makes Contact With Warm Air

You can also see a white fog from the air conditioning vents if cold air gets into contact with warm, humid air. This is similar to seeing your breath when you go out on a cold day. When warm, moist air gets in contact with cool, dry air, condensation occurs. You will see the condensation as white fog or smoke,

One of the reasons why fog may appear on the air conditioning vents is poor airflow inside the unit. The good news is that this problem can be solved without contacting an HVAC technician. To stop the fog, simply turn the cooling system to a lower temperature. Also, check that the air filters are not clogged. This is crucial to ensure proper airflow. It is advisable to get your HVAC unit checked at least once a year by a licensed technician.

3. Clogged Air Conditioner Drain Hole

clogged air conditioner drain line

If you have an older AC unit, it probably has a drain hole. When warm air reaches the AC evaporator coil, it is cooled, and water droplets are left behind. The droplets have to drain out of the unit through the drain hole. However, if the drain hole is clogged, the droplets will find a different place to escape. The vapor will usually escape through the air conditioner vents and when outside, will look like fog or smoke. Ensure regular maintenance and repair of your unit to prevent problems with the drain line.

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4. Air Conditioner Component Fails

Most modern homes have AC units. The units are critical to our well-being during both the summer and winter months. Therefore, they are likely to be in use all year round. This being the case, the units are overburdened due to the huge work they do.

Over time, air conditioning units can age and start being inefficient. Some parts can stop working due to normal wear and tear. One of the signs of a failing air conditioning unit is the emission of smoke. For example, if your unit uses a belt-driven fan that has aged, it can fail, and smoke will be produced.

In case you notice smoke or a burning smell coming from your air conditioning unit, turn it off immediately. For one, the smoke can be toxic. Also, the smoke can be a precursor or a fire. Smoke can also be emitted when the fan’s motor has burned out. Get in touch with a trained HVAC technician to diagnose and fix any issues with your unit. Depending on the outcome of the diagnostics, the professional will advise you on whether repairs can be done or replacements of parts are necessary. In extreme cases, you will have to purchase a new air conditioning unit.

5. Overheating Air Conditioning Unit

image of homeowner plugging nose due to bad air conditioner smell

Condensation is not the only cause of smoke coming from the air conditioning vents. This is especially if the smoke is accompanied by a strange smell. AC units have many electrical parts. Sometimes, the parts may overheat and start burning. The result will be smoke being produced together with a strange smell.

Overheating can happen when there is no proper airflow in the unit. For example, the HVAC air filters may be clogged, or the vents may be blocked, hence reducing airflow. Contact a reliable HVAC technician to diagnose the actual cause of the smoke and smell. The professional can open the unit and inspect the parts for signs of overheating. Finally, they can carry out repairs to ensure your unit works safely and efficiently.

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6. Electrical Problems With The Air Conditioner

image of air conditioner electrical wires

The cooling system has multiple wires and electrical connections. If any of the wires are faulty, then parts can start melting or burning, producing smoke and a strong odor. Problems with the wiring can also make the air conditioner produce smoke from the vents.

Faulty electrical connections or wires can be a fire hazard. Therefore, when you notice that the cooling unit produces smoke and a bad smell, switch it off immediately. After that, contact a trusted HVAC technician to come and inspect the unit.

Air Conditioner Sets Off Smoke Detector

Sometimes, the air conditioner may set off the smoke detector. This usually happens because of a power surge. Therefore, when you hear the alarm, don’t be worried if you do not see any smoke coming from the AC unit.

If the smoke alarm is set off regularly, your power system may be experiencing intermittent surges. These surges are usually a sign that the air conditioner was not installed properly or there is a problem with its electrical components. An experienced HVAC technician can help to diagnose and remedy the problem.

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White Odorless Smoke Coming From The Air Conditioner

If you notice smoke coming from the air conditioner vents, you must act quickly. To begin, find out whether the smoke is odorless or pungent. If there is no smell, then it’s likely that the “smoke” you are seeing is vapor due to condensation. In this case, there is no cause for immediate worry. You can try to rectify the problem by simply checking whether the air filters or drain holes are clogged. If they are, unclog them.

On the flip side, if the smoke produced has a pungent smell, then it is likely that some parts of the AC unit could have failed. For example, the electrical wiring could be faulty, leading to parts of the unit overheating and then melting. In this case, immediately switch off the unit and contact a professional HVAC technician for help.


How to Prevent Issues with Your HVAC Unit

For your HVAC unit to remain in tip-top condition, ensure that the necessary routine air conditioner maintenance and repair tasks are done on time. Routine maintenance includes inspection of inner components of the HVAC unit. During the inspection, the technician will look for signs of wear and tear or other issues that can lead to bigger problems in the future. The technician can also handle simple problems such as clogged air filters to prevent your system from being inefficient.

One issue you may not think about much your air conditioning unit size. The size of your unit can determine its efficiency. A qualified HVAC technician can advise you further on this matter.

Problems with the cooling system are also common, especially with air conditioners that have been operational for a couple of years. If the cooling system has problems, you will notice signs such as white smoke or fog coming from the AC vents. While unclogging the filters by yourself is usually sufficient to solve this problem, it’s still important to get an HVAC contractor to inspect the system for any other issues you may not be aware of. Early inspection, detection and remedying of impending problems will go a long way in saving you from future financial losses resulting from performance inefficiencies.

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Call Miller Oil Company For Superior Air Conditioning Services

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Miller Oil Company provides outstanding heating and cooling service for clients in Hartford County, Connecticut. We hire only the best. Let us send out a certified technician who will provide you with exceptional HVAC tune-up service, timely repairs, proper installations, and cost-effective replacements if needed. Our techs bring the knowledge and the experience to properly service your HVAC system.

Miller Oil Company guarantees you will get competitive heating and cooling service costs that fit your budget. The maintenance service we provide is sure to improve your personal comfort, as well as increase your energy efficiency. This will, in turn, reduce your home’s cooling costs. If you need any HVAC repair or have to replace the system, we will recommend the best unit for your home while not going outside your budget. We back up our work with a guarantee to make sure of your complete satisfaction. To schedule your own service appointment today, give Miller Oil Company a call. Be sure to ask us about the free, in-home estimate service we provide.

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