Window A/C blowing smelly/musty/mildewy odor

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Old 12-25-14, 09:36 PM
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Window A/C blowing smelly/musty/mildewy odor

My a/c is GE 6,050 BTU Window Air Conditioner. Keep in mind that I live in an apartment and live on the 3rd floor.

Problem: Whenever the A/C is blowing warm/uncooled air, it has this musty or mildewy or moldy odor (I've never smelled either of them close up, so I'm not sure which one is closer is the odor). But, whenever it's blowing cool air, there is absolutely no smell whatsoever.

Solutions tried, but to no avail:
1. Used a car freshener and put it in the air conditioner opening where the air comes out, obviously did not work.
2. I used some foam coil cleaner, spray some on the front coils, then just wiped off the excess. I sprayed the back coils and rinsed it out with water by using a water bottle lol. Did not help the odor whatsoever, but it did make it blow more air.
3. I bought some pan tablets and tried them out, it did help with the odor a lot, but after a week, the odor came back. I tried the tablet again, this time it had no effect.
4. After the weeks of odor, I just can't bear it anymore, so I finally decided to take it out of my window and take it apart and clean the whole unit with water and soap. I brought it to my bathtub so I could use my shower hose and hose it off. I used full blast on my hose to the tray and styrofoam with warm water and some anti-bacterial soap. Got rid of anything that looked black or build up or smudge or whatever. I let it air-dry in my living room for 24 hours and gave the electronic control panel a 15 minute blast with a hair-dryer to make sure it's definitely dry, didn't want it to short out. It didn't smell anymore, it just smelled like soap. After a day with my A/C on, the musty/mildewy/moldy smell is starting to slowly come back.

Long story short, my body is aching from lugging around the stupid A/C for no reason because it did not solve my problem. Any help would really be appreciated.
 
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Old 12-25-14, 10:00 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

Do you have a need for an air conditioner now ?

Usually the smell comes from the condensate that is not able to be evaporated by the hot condensor coil or cannot drain from the unit. Did you check and make sure any drain holes and channels are clear so that the water can drain out ?

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Old 12-25-14, 11:11 PM
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Thank you.

My room has like NO ventilation at all, so it gets really stuffy and hot and humid, even during winter. Room measured at around 90+ fahrenheit without air conditioner. I didn't know where the drain holes were, so I didn't check them. Is there a safe spot to drill a hole to drain it? I have a dremel. I sure as hell don't want to take it out of the window again, way too much hassle than I hoped.
 
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Old 12-26-14, 08:52 AM
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When the unit is in the window, is it tipped outward properly so the condensate drains to the rear of the unit?
 
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Old 12-26-14, 12:07 PM
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I'd assume so, I live in a gated community, so the residential handyman installed the A/C for me. A few months ago, there was a severe leaking in front of the AC, I had to buy a shamwow towel and had to wring it out every night, it was about a good half or more gallon or so. But, the leaking problem went away by itself somehow a few months later, also note that the water did not smell at all, it smelled and looked quite clean actually. No leaking so far, so I'm guessing it's tipped out? Is there a good way to tell? Like maybe using a right angle tool under my air conditioner from the outside?
 
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Old 12-26-14, 01:58 PM
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The fact that it leaked indie tells me it wasn't installed correctly.
You should be able to see if it's tipped outward by looking at the unit from the side.
 
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Old 12-26-14, 05:49 PM
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The thing is, my AC is installed without the support bracket under the AC, it's held from falling out the window with a steel flat beam and has holes drilled to the side of the window frame to keep it in place. If I try to tip it out, the holes will not match up and I will not be able to screw it in properly. I don't have a power drill, only a dremel, which I doubt is good drilling into quarter inch thick steel... Also, the flat steel beam is flat against the window frame, if I tip the AC out, the beam won't lay flat against the frame.

The AC was installed in 2012, the leaking thing was only recent. Isn't it possible that the drain hole was clogged and heavy rain could of unclogged it?

So... I think my only solution is to either replace the AC or find a workaround the drain hole, if the smell is indeed due to water buildup. Is it okay to drill a hole under the AC? Or it's highly not recommended?
 
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Old 12-28-14, 07:12 AM
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You shouldn't have to drill any holes in the A/C unit. It should be tipped outward slightly so the condensate water drains correctly. If it's sitting level, condensate water is probably not draining completely from the evaporator pan.
 
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Old 01-18-15, 09:30 AM
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Has the OP fixed the problem?

If the lack of drainage/smell is recent, the unit probably needs a cleaning. Most modern window units have a styrofoam liner/insulator that also used as a a sound "deadner". It has little channels pressed into it to take evap condensate water outside so it can drip away. These gets clogged easily with dirt, algae, etc. Water than backs up and the smell is wet and moldy.

The only way to do that is remove the unit from the wall, disassemble it and gently clean all the trays and channels out with something like Green Clean and a soft bottle brush.
 
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Old 08-17-16, 11:04 AM
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I think I have a solution for you. I went thru this every summer. I took mine apart and cleaned also, only to have the problem return in a few days. here is what solved the issue for me.

clean the screen, and coils which face into your home. you can do all this with the a/c unit in the window. I used a vaccum cleaner and toothbrush. then get a 1 gal garden sprayer. mix 1 ounce of Clorox with 1 gal of water and put it in the sprayer. you are going to be spraying the insides and the circ fan. use a flashlight and a helper if you need to . get it on everything you can see in there and try to get the fan to rotate by spraying it. you can lightly spray the coils if you're careful. put towels on the floor in front of it or wherever you need.

let it sit for at least 2 hrs. cover the floor or move whatever is in front or in the path of the outcoming air for at least 10 ft. when ready turn the unit on, look for the solution spraying out, after abot 3-4 min it should be ok.
Now comes the important part. most a/c units have a timer function, you have to run just the fan to dry up the water that condenses on the insides after you would turn the cooling part off. i run in fan only mode for an hour. i set the timer in fan only mode for 1 hour before i go to work. this has worked for me all this season with 2 units and no smell if you keep the screen washed.
 
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