How to Stop Smells from Coming Through Vents

A foul smell or musty smell can readily travel through your air vents, making your overall atmosphere an uncomfortable one. Most people ask the most common question: how to stop smells from coming through vents?

It can be achieved through several ways, like going for an air duct treatment using baking soda at home to clean your air ducts and air vents.

Hiring a professional service is another common way of eliminating the foul smell from your HVAC system.

This tutorial will help you know how to stop smells from coming through vents at residential or commercial spaces.

Why are There Foul Smells Coming from My Vents?

Smells can move through vents and cause your entire house to reek of foul odor. It can cause an unpleasant atmosphere around your space.

If you have an HVAC system with air filters that give out a musty smell or cooking smells at your home, this can be caused by several reasons.

The most common sources of a musty smell are molds, mildew, or pests stuck inside your ductwork. There can also be mechanical issues like plumbing leaks that can cause this issue.

How Can Smells Travel Through Vents?

The most common source through which smells travel across is air. As the air around your house is pushed through the house vents, either through your HVAC vents or furnaces, the smell is carried along with it.

That causes the smell to travel across your home, resulting in frequent bad odors.

12 Types of Odors That Come Through Vents

You can easily determine most bad odors as each has a significant smell. If you can determine what type of smell is leaking through your vent cover, it can be easier to identify the issue and resolve it.

It is essential to eliminate such smells as they can lead to further damage. Take a look at some common types of odors that can travel through your vents and cause discomfort.

1. Rotten Egg Smell

If no rotten eggs are lying around at your home and you still smell something similar to rotten eggs, then it is most likely the smell of a gas leak.

If you sense such a smell in your house coming through the vents, immediately turn off the gas, open all the windows for ventilation, and if possible, leave the house for a while.

2. Electrical Odor

In such a case, when you smell a strong electrical odor, it is advisable to switch off the device as it could lead to a possible overheating of the device.

After switching off your device, check the air filter to see if it’s clogged. That can restrict the airflow and cause overheating of the device.

3. Moldy or Musty Smell

One of the most common smells from air vents is a moldy or musty smell. That happens when the system is running and develops enough condensation.

When the moisture doesn’t drain appropriately, it can result in mold growth inside the ducts.

Here are tips how to remove musty odor from AC units

4. Cooking Smells

Cooking smells are very pungent and travel rapidly across air vents. Smells like strong spices, vinegar, or seafood are significant contributors.

It is advisable to keep these things away as the smells from such substances grow stronger when they’re left out, causing your entire house a great deal of discomfort.

5. Burning Smell

Similar to electrical odors, you can sense burning smells easily. A burning smell can persist if you switch on your furnace after some time.

It is usually the dust that burns away that causes the odor. You can leave it on for a few minutes, and the smell will usually go away.

6. Oil Smell

The smell of oil usually comes in either of the 2 different scenarios. The first possible scenario could be an oil leak from the furnace. You can fix this by tightening the tank or oil filter fitting.

The second issue can be caused by the oil burner that may not be working effectively. It can be because of a clogged oil burner or a bad fuel pump.

7. Stinky Smell

This type of smell indicates the presence of mold. You can locate the mold formation and clean the ductwork with a clean cloth to ensure the smell goes away.

8. Sewage Smell

A sewage smell coming from the vents indicates that the plumbing pipe has been cracked. You should get this immediately repaired with the help of a professional.

9. Rotting Garbage Smell

Any rotting smell is a clear indication of the presence of either rodents or pests. If you smell something rotting, it could be possible because a rodent has died inside your ductwork.

You should get it cleaned by professionals as soon as possible, as this can also harm your health.

10. Acetone Smell

Do you smell something similar to nail polish or acetone? That can be caused because of a refrigerant leakage inside your system. Units that have not been installed correctly usually lead to this issue.

You should get this immediately checked as the substance is highly flammable.

11. Urine Smell

You can sense this type of smell, especially in winters, since many rodents make the ductwork their nest near the air handler for warmth and protection against the cold.

As the rodents defecate and urine, the smell travels through vents and can be spread all across the house.

12. Basement Smells Coming Through Vents

To prevent basement smells from coming through the vents, make sure that you seal all the joints on any exposed duct in the basement or attic.

You can also seal all the penetrations that go down the attic as they can give out a rustic smell that can travel through these penetrations up into your home.

How to Stop Smells from Coming Through Vents?

  1. Clean dirty evaporator coils
  2. Clean clogged condensate drain line
  3. Clean dirty air filters
  4. Clean the ducts and vent cover using warm water and soap
  5. Vacuum the duct and vent cover
  6. Install duct filter pads in your vents
  7. Use baking soda to reduce odor in your air ducts
  8. Hire a professional to clean your vents and ducts

If your ductwork is regularly maintained and serviced, it will help in substantially reducing the number of smells coming through your vents.

Keeping your duct system clean is one of the most important things that need to be done to ensure a clean atmosphere around the house.

1. Clean the Duct and Vent Cover

Vacuuming is another essential activity that you can repeatedly do to eliminate bad smells from entering your space. 

You can frequently vacuum the duct and vent cover of the air filter. It is very convenient to clean it. To do so, you need to unscrew the vent and then vacuum all the dirt that has been collected inside.

You can also opt for professional air duct cleaning services from proper vacuuming of the HVAC vents. 

2. Frequently Change the Air Filters

It is very natural for particles to get stuck inside the air filter, which can spread foul smells inside your room or office.

Professionals recommend keeping your air filters clean as this doesn’t lead to clogging of particles inside them, which may give way to an unpleasant smell.

The cleanliness of your air filters determines the healthy functioning of your air conditioner. Your HVAC vents and units might also require regular repair and maintenance. 

3. Unclog Your Drain Line

Excess condensation in the evaporator coil leads to clogging of your drain. Water pooling around the inside of your air conditioning unit can lead to mold and can eventually spread the pungent smell.

You can use a wet vacuum or a dry one to clean or unclog your drain and remove excess water from the collection pan. However, if you’re unable to do it yourself, it’s better to call for professional help.

4. Clean the Evaporator Coil

The evaporator coil serves as a vital part of your air conditioning unit and the central part that provides conditioning to your house or commercial space. It is usual for the coil to get rusty and dirty quickly, and when it does get dirty, you can find mold stuck onto it.

You can either clean it with the help of a commercial disinfectant cleaner or clean it with some essential home remedies. 

If you’re preparing a mixture at home, make sure to dilute your bleach, as bleach can sometimes cause damage to metals.

How to Use Baking Soda in Vents?

Baking soda is a brilliant substance that can quickly relieve your foul odor issue. That can help in effective air duct cleaning of your air vents.

Placing a dish of baking soda directly under your air duct can help reduce foul odors substantially.

If you have been looking for a quick home remedy, baking soda is your only savior.

How Can you Make Your Vents Smell Good?

You can follow some simple remedies at home to make your vents smell good and eliminate the foul odor. These things can be easily found around your home or easily bought from a store.

Some of the most common things in a household are white vinegar, dryer sheet, coffee grounds, vanilla extracts, or lemons. These things effectively reduce the foul smell from your air vents and can be found at all times in your kitchen.

You can also apply some essential oils around vents. They have a pleasant scent and help you feel refreshed. If you’re allergic to essential oils, you can choose to go for a diffuser.

You can also deodorize air vents or place sachet bags inside ducts. These can reduce any unpleasant smells from coming through the air vents.

Why Should You Hire a Professional Service?

Though cleaning your HVAC system is not a very complex process, you need to take the required precautions to ensure that you don’t end up damaging parts of your ductwork.

If you’ve worked out all the ways by yourself and are still unable to get rid of the musty smell, it’s time for you to contact a professional service provider who will take care of this in the best way possible.

Hiring a professional is much more convenient because they are equipped with the proper knowledge and tools to solve your problem and check your air ducts for any duct leaks.

They’re aware of the mechanical issues and how to repair them. In most cases, you might not know the best way to clean your HVAC system and lack the right tools.

If you’re wondering whether hiring a professional service is the right thing to do or not, here are some of the benefits of hiring professionals. 

  • Saves a lot of your time and effort
  • Offers quality service
  • Ensures hassle-free cleaning.

What is the Cost of Hiring Professionals?

The cost mainly depends on the work and equipment required to clean your air conditioner. The price also depends on a lot of other factors. If you wish to hire professionals through a company, the cost will be relatively higher than hiring an individual professional.

There is a standard price that you can expect for this cleaning service. As per the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average cost can range between $450 to $1,000 per home or project.

There can be additional costs based on any external tools or processes that the team will further require of professionals. You can discuss the price with the company before finalizing.

You can also compare the prices with other companies and determine what best suits your budget.

What is Air Duct Treatment?

An air duct treatment is a procedure that uses antimicrobial solutions to eliminate the bacteria formation inside the duct system. These solutions deodorize air vents from the inside and help in creating a fresh atmosphere.

Professional air duct cleaning utilizes two or more solutions to thoroughly clean the ventilation system through a spray. These solutions are authorized by EPA and are safe to use on metals, ensuring that no damage is caused to your product.

When to Know That You Need Air Duct Cleaning?

You probably may have trouble knowing the right time when your air duct requires some deep cleaning. It is essential to get it serviced in regular intervals with every machine. That will ensure the longevity of the unit.

Air duct cleaning is critical for keeping your machine serviced for healthy operations and functioning. You can also opt for professional service for air duct cleaning to ensure safety.

Here are some ways to find out when to go for air duct cleaning.

  • The smell is persistent and grows over days spreading to multiple rooms.
  • You have visible pests inside your HVAC system. These pests can be dead or alive and are a safety concern for the machine.
  • Your HVAC system is heavily clogged with dirt or dust particles.
  • A possibly leaking ductwork that requires professional help.

Vent Smell FAQs

Can Smells Travel Through Vents?

Yes, smells are carried through the air and can easily travel through your air vents when your furnace or HVAC system is switched on. The most common source of transmission of smells is the air around your system and your home.

Ensure that that unit is frequently cleaned and any mold is removed from the unit as it’s a significant contributor to an unpleasant smell.

Can I Spray Lysol in My Home Ac Vents?

Please note that substances like Lysol are highly flammable and can cause massive damage to your unit. Therefore, you shouldn’t spray Lysol inside your air vents.

Lysol’s amount of ethanol alcohol can lead to a potential fire.

Can I Spray Air Fresheners Inside Air Vents?

You can use some air fresheners available in the market to deodorize air vents. You should use them with caution as spraying them in any other part of the unit can lead to potential damage.

The air fresheners help release a pleasant fragrance through the air vent. However, know that air fresheners are only a temporary solution, and the effect wears off after some time.