The expectations for turning on your air conditioner is to feel refreshing and breezy air that cools down your home. What you don't expect is for the air to smell awful. When this happens, it's important that you figure out what the reason is for the bad smell.
A common reason for the bad odor could be due to mold. Investigate the problem by looking in the unit's condensation tray. This tray ends up collecting any condensation that happens to drip from the condenser coil. If enough condensation collects in the tray and gets stuck in it, mold can start to grow. This can happen due to a drain that is plugged and causing water to collect in the tray. The tray may have somehow shifted, altering the slope of the tray so that the water cannot flow towards the drain.
Thankfully, this is a simple problem to fix using basic household cleaning products. Start by making a cleaning solution that is half bleach and half water, and spray it onto your condenser's fins. Then you'll need to pour a little bit of bleach onto the drain line's main opening. Let the bleach sit for about an hour, since you want it to kill the algae growing in the condenser tray. Then flush out the tray and drain line using water. Before you close everything up, make sure that the condensation tray is aligned properly so that water is flowing towards the drain when it enters the tray.
Ignoring mold growth can cause the formation of algae, which will eventually ferment. The odor will then become incredibly strong and create the need to sanitize your entire condenser.
When animals are looking to find shelter in the winter, one spot they may try to get into is your condenser. If an animal died inside the unit, it will create an awful odor that you may smell when the weather gets warm and the ground starts to thaw. There can also be animal waste in the condenser that will have a similar effect.
While a dead animal is easy to identify, urine will be more difficult. Try shining a black light on the unit, which will cause urine to start glowing under the light.
A great way to make sure that an animal odor is gone is to call an air conditioner repair specialist like one from Augusta Mechanical Heating & Air Conditioning to sanitize the unit for you. You do not want to make the mistake of turning on your unit after an animal has died in it during the winter, and then have the smell permeate your entire home.