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Question DetailsAsked on 9/30/2016

I have an acrid odor in my living area which I cannot find the source. It stings my nose and throat It diminishes

It's stronger during evening hours. It had muskey oder until I ran AC at 74 degrees and brought Humidity to 50 and That stopped, Acrid odor still there, It's not coming from the AC. Not noticeable in Bedrooms.

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1 Answer


Different people describe smells differently - but mildew and mold commonly are described as choking, musty, etc. Fungal growth as muskey or woody or mushroomy. Overheated electrical insulation or electronics commonally are described as acrid or stinging or chemically, as are spilled chemicals. You have used both - but if it stings nose and throat I would not expect it to be mildew or mold unless an obviously widespread case with lots of visible mold - so I would be inclined to an overheated electrical item, or rarely some plastic item or synthetic fabric overheating on a heater or radiator. Also of course spilled/leaking chemicals like under sinks or in laundry room, or in paint cabient in garage or shop.

You said specifically not coming from A/C (presumably you mean not coming out of vents) - so "stinky sock syndrome" - fungal growth on the A/C evaporator coil in the ducts, would evidently be out - which can be a source of either the musty or musky or acrid smell. However, since you said running the A/C reduced the muskey (musty ?) odor, and that it is stronger in evening hours (when A/C tends to run a bit cooler so creates more condensate moisture at evaporator) I would say check out the evaporator - for growth on the coils, and also to be sure the drain pan is draining correctly. Sometimes you can remove a cover plate and check it out yourself - sometimes an HVAC contractor has to remove it to see.

The acrid odor - normally I would say look for overheating electrical - commonly dust-clogged kitchen or bathroom fans stalling out (though obviously related to only when they are on), and also commonly due to overheated electronic devices or especially transformers on chargers/voltage reducers on handheld electronic devices. Also overheating doorbell chimes or transformers, especially if doorbell button is stuck "on".

If you individually put the words "smell" and "odor" into the Ask box above, it will pop up some links to similar questions about odors in houses - several of the rersponses I have done have fairly long checklists of common sources of different types of odors.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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