Smoke Coming From Vents When AC Is On

air conditioning vent with ac unit that is blowing smoke

The cooling system is crucial in maintaining your family’s home comfort. However, like any machinery, an air conditioner will experience an issue from time to time, especially as it ages. For example, you may notice smoke coming out of the vents. If this happens, check if it is accompanied by a smell. This article helps you determine the potential causes of this problem. Like with any air conditioning issue, it is always recommended that you consult with your local HVAC technician to rule out any severe or potentially dangerous issues. They have the trained eyes to find the reason behind an air conditioner blowing smoke.

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Air Conditioner Blows Smoke: Causes & Solutions

Read on to know some of the common reasons that will lead to smoke coming out of the vents when the cooling unit is on.

AC Condensation Accumulating In The Heater Box

condensation from air conditioner

If white smoke comes out of your air conditioning vents, it is highly likely that it isn’t really smoke. What you see could be condensation, especially if the white fog doesn’t have a smell.
Your air conditioner pulls in warm air that is then cooled, naturally resulting in condensation. If this condensation accumulates in the heater box, it isn’t unusual for the condensation to turn into vapor. It then gets released along with the cooled air, making it look like white smoke is coming from the vents. The excess moisture in the heater box could be because of a blocked drain line.

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Cold Dry Air Comes In Contact With Warm Air

White fog typically forms when cold air hits warm air, especially if the latter is highly humid. This is like when you go out on a cold day and see your breath. This is because condensation or water droplets form as white smoke or fog when warm, moist air hits cool, dry air.

Improper airflow in your air conditioner is a common culprit behind this problem. Minimize this issue by turning your cooling system on high, so your home cools faster. Moreover, ensure that you regularly clean or change the air filters. Annual air conditioner inspections by a licensed HVAC professional help make sure that your air conditioner is in tiptop shape.

Clogged Air Conditioner Drain Hole

image of an air conditioner condenser

Newer air conditioner models aren’t equipped with a drain hole, but older ones usually are. The evaporator coil of the air conditioner generates condensation as it cools warm air. The condensation should be drained. Fortunately, a drain line channels the water outside, away from the air conditioner. The bad news is that this drain line can get clogged as time passes. This will cause the water to back up into your air conditioner, causing white vapor to be released via the air conditioning vents. Prevent drain line problems with regular air conditioner maintenance.

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Failure Of An Air Conditioner Component

Most homes have an air conditioner as it brings about a lot of convenience in our lives. Unfortunately, it is often placed under heavy strain. After all, your air conditioner has to keep up with the cooling demands during hot summer days, and this can definitely burden your air conditioning system.

Naturally, the components of the air conditioning system will eventually fail as it ages. If your air conditioner has a belt-driven fan, the smoke could be due to this component failing.
Another cause is when the fan’s motor burns out. Turn off the cooling unit immediately if a foul smell accompanies the smoke coming out the vents. This smoke can be toxic. Call a trained HVAC professional to diagnose and resolve the problem. At times, the best solution is an air conditioner replacement.

Overheating Air Conditioning Unit

man plugging nose due to smelly air conditioner

If a strange smell comes with the white smoke, the problem is likely more severe than condensation. Air conditioners are made of many electrical components which can overheat, especially if the air conditioner doesn’t receive proper airflow.

The problem could be due to a clogged air filter or blocked vents. Ensure that the air conditioner is turned off immediately and call a qualified HVAC technician, so the problem doesn’t escalate further. An HVAC professional can figure out which part(s) are overheating. These components likely need a replacement before you can use the air conditioner safely again.

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Air Conditioner Electrical Problems

A wiring problem can be a reason behind the smoke coming from your air conditioner’s vents. Your cooling system has many wires and electrical connections. If one malfunctions, it can result in smoke accompanied by a foul odor.

To reiterate, turn off your air conditioner as soon as you notice a strange smell. Problems with your system’s electrical components can be highly dangerous and even cause fires if left unattended. Have a trained HVAC technician help you resolve this problem.

Is Your Air Conditioner Setting Off The Smoke Alarm?

It might be a bit unnerving when your smoke alarm goes off. However, it might not even be a smoke issue that’s causing it. Generally, a power surge could be why your air conditioning system sets off the smoke alarm.

If this happens, unplug your cooling system or pull the circuit for the air conditioner and contact your local, trusted HVAC tech. The problem is likely due to how the air conditioner was installed or with the electrical system in your home.


Is The White Smoke Coming From Your Air Conditioner Odorless?

Take action whenever you see smoke coming from your air conditioner vents. The first thing you need to do is determine if the smoke has a bad smell or if it is odorless. The smoke is likely caused by a condensation issue if it’s the latter. However, you still shouldn’t neglect it as an air conditioner that’s improperly draining could result in other problems.

If the white smoke comes with a bad smell, it is highly likely caused by an electrical issue or a failing component. In both cases, it is essential that you switch the air conditioner off right away and call a trained HVAC technician.

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How To Avoid Smoke Problems With Your AC

Homeowners can do their part in ensuring that their air conditioner functions properly. This starts with yearly HVAC maintenance. An HVAC professional will inspect the system and look for any symptoms that point to an issue. This way, they are resolved before they escalate into bigger problems. Of course, homeowners can also do simple tasks like regular air filter replacement. These can go a long way in keeping air conditioner problems at bay.

An issue that many homeowners overlook is the air conditioner size. If it is too small or too large for your home, you will eventually encounter problems. Consult with a reputable HVAC technician if this is a concern.

It is essential that you are aware of any cooling system problems you might have. Call a professional HVAC contractor as soon as you notice a problem, like white smoke or fog coming from your air conditioner vents. Some problems might not be dangerous but can result in bigger AC repair bills down the road. Other times, the problem could be risky and should be handled immediately. Only a trained HVAC technician can guide you in this area.

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Call R.F. Ohl For All Of Your HVAC Requirements

RF Ohl logoR.F. Ohl provides high-quality HVAC services in the Poconos and the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. We only have the best professionally certified technicians on staff, so you can be certain that you’ll receive excellent maintenance, replacements, installations, or repair services. All our techs are skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable to service any HVAC system correctly.

Rest assured, our company offers the most competitive HVAC service prices in the locality. Our tune-up services help increase your energy efficiency and improve your comfort while reducing your heating and cooling bills. When you need an HVAC repair or replacement system, we can recommend the best one within your budget. All our work is guaranteed because your satisfaction is important to us. To schedule a service appointment, call R.F. Ohl today. We offer free, in-home estimates.

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