Foul Odor from Heat Pump during Defrost

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Old 11-04-13, 04:43 PM
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Question Foul Odor from Heat Pump during Defrost

I have a similar post related to this issue, but wanted to start a new one; w/ detailed investigation I did to rule the odor as a issue called "Stinky Sock Syndrome"

First, it all begin the other day when my heat pump went into defrost mode & got a foul odor that came from out of my vents. Once the system came out of defrost mode the system the odor quickly dissolved.

So I begin to do some investigation on the internet & tried to find similar situations, & that is how I discovered the "Stinky Sock Syndrome" - so as I digged further into it, I noticed this only occurs by two ways

1). It goes into defrost mode - when the evaporator cool down & the smell begins to come though the vents.

2). Run your heat pump in heat mode for awhile & then quickly turn into cooling mode & this will give the same effect.

It being warm outside for a defrost, I ran the heat for a few to get the coils hot & then switched into cooling mode & the smell came out foul I tell you!

So it seems I have this syndrome which dooms around .5% to 2.00% of heat pumps.

That all being said, what is the best route to take to get this taken care of. Is this the fault of the Company to replace ( Trane ); or is this expense gonna come out of my pocket? The system is just right at 1year old, I got a nice warranty on the system however my labor part of the warranty is ready to expire.

So any advise would be greatly appreciated. & my completely apologizes for submitting a different thread.
 
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Old 11-07-13, 06:00 PM
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They might replace it or just the coil. But they might not because its been proven that this is from the environment that the unit is in. I will tell you they will not replace anything tell they try to fix it first. I will say I have never been able to fix the issue just reduce the amount of smell
 
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Old 11-15-13, 06:14 PM
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I now have a new trane. Works geat but has the stinky odor as noted in thead by joshua. Service cleaned with some cleaner but still there. I hesitated in buying another trane think I am about to severely regret it. The serviceman took my serial number on Air Handler and call Trane as there are some they will replace. Will be calling them again but feel they are getting a lot of complaints. Never had this with prevvious 2 systems and it is not the environment. Any help or advice appreciated. Will be back on progress next week.
 
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Old 12-05-13, 03:13 PM
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Got a reply from Trane installer today. If problem still exists when time for a/c use they will clean the coil. They will replace it with what they call a blue fin coil. Anyone know about this? Haven't noticed too much on the odor but weather is mediocre and defrosting not needed when temp is above 40 degrees. Timer will not run unless cold enough. Hoping it will go away. He wanted to know how many cats we have. Just one but very clean conditions are maintained with litter. We have had them for years but went about 15 years without until this one. I saw a new air handler in a house under construction that a microban label on it. Found out the drain pan which is plastic is impregnated with this stuff. Apparently when the mold spores are dried by the heat they fall into this pan and moisture created during cooling activates it. What I see is a white powder which rubbed some on my finger but doesn't smell that bad. I have seen this on previous 2 systems and when condensate drains there is a white power that builds up at the floor drain. I have had it to stop up the trap and would use a air compressor to clean it out. No trap was installed on this system. I am going to check into how detect mold and it's spors to begin with. What I smelled initially was more chemical than moldy. My wife wants to put in just a electric furnace with A/C when this thing blows up. The money we have spent on heat pumps lately would more than take care of the electric bills. That is what my brother has had for years and seeing the problems we have had and when he needs finally replace his thats what he will get, no heat pump.
 
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Old 12-06-13, 06:15 AM
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Blue fin coil or a dipped coil is the fix for this. The drain pan has nothing to do with this. This is 100% a coil and environment issue. You can't see mold spores with out a microscope! The white u see is going to be calcium.
 
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Old 12-14-13, 07:39 PM
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Chemical or moldy

Since my last post I have read a lot on HP odors. I had the strong chemical odor when going into heating and then back to cooling the first time this season. The coil was cleaned with a HVAC certified cleaner. Still maybe a slight residue now and then. I have turned the temp up to force the aux heaters and the temp at vent was 118 degrees. Got very warm and did smell the usual heater coil odor. I have a small space heater in my bedroom that I turned on and after not in use for a period of time and the smell was of a heater coil burn off. My last HP when it went into defrost most always turned on the 1st stage heaters and I could smell it. I called it the blue light special. With all the problems I had with it and it's short life should have told me not to get another trane. This one cost more than the first two units combined including the ductwork. I had a GE that lasted 22 years and not one trouble call. Had to replace outside fan motor and repaired broken wires going to relays. The compressor began to trip internally and finally a dead short to case developed. Second unit a Trane lasted about 12 years but spent hundreds on qualified service people working on it for it's last two years. Do not use sealant trying to stop leaks in the A coil. This will eventually kill the compressor. Just suck it in and replace the coil. My problems all started with a stopped up filter dryer no bigger than my thumb. They finally found it but things were broken in the process. The A coil rusted out which was a know problem and went downhill from there. Can someone reccomend a UV light unit and estimated cost.
 
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Old 12-14-13, 07:56 PM
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Where parts come from

It is time for Trane and other HVAC companies to say something about all the complaints of these wierd smells. Remember the moldy Tylenol pills a few years ago. It was the containers that were stored in a moldy damp warehouses in the Philipines where they were manufactured. They had no caps on them and many of the boxes were wet and coming apart. That country is moldy naturally because of it's climate. Many became sick from using these pills. The same goes for A coils and other internal air handler parts made in Mexico. There have been problems of contaminated products from there. It's time to stop the buck passing and explain what is happening with the quality of American sold parts made in other countries that make us sick.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 08:56 AM
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Uv will do nothing to kill DSS in an existing coil. Get the coil coated
 
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Old 12-15-13, 01:45 PM
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Recoat or not

My wife just noted she smelled the odor that may or not be DSS. Having the coil coated means opening the system up to more problems. If this a problem why hasn't Trane coated all the coils before installing them. The dealer by the s/n has offered a blue fin version. Is this the same as removing the coil and sending it to Texas to have it coated? I told them last week, I prefer to replace the whole air handler that is certified DSS free with a non-variable speed fan. They said they will have to run this by Trane. I can only wish to win the lottery and have this crap ripped out and different brand installed. We had a Trane standard nothing fancy installed in rental house my wife inherited and the renters have not noticed any objectionable odors. Can a variable speed fan be forced to run at high speed when it comes on. They are saying the variable speed is part of the problem.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 04:24 PM
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Once again this is an environment issue. We have replaced coils and within weeks the issue comes back. This is not a blower speed issue. Dipped coil, coated coil, blue fin coil all about the same will work.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 08:31 PM
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Former Units

Why didn't my first two units have this problem? No complaints from unit installed in a rental house. What would be in our environment other than the one created by Trane? We had 2 cats and a dog with no problems. Eventually we will get the right answer and Trane needs to give it. Going to try and get area Tech Rep to come by after the Holidays. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.
 
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Old 12-18-13, 08:45 AM
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I have the exact problem with a Lennox. I was able to lesson the problem by cleaning the A coil with a antibacterial coil cleaner. Note about no rinse coil cleaners... they will smoke and smell horrible if you do not rinse thoroughly. They are not designed to use in heat mode.
I also thoroughly cleaned the return. While cleaning the return I found many leaks post filter. The unit was sucking air from the attic without going thru filter. Also I plugged the p-trap with a cork. (Only for the winter!!)
I still have the smell but much much less.
Last night I noticed that the e-power strips were not turning on during defrost. However they do work. Just not during defrost. My theory is that the rapid temperature change during defrost is causing any residual mold/bacteria any where in the duct and on coil to smell. This is crazy on my sinuses. Later today I will try to make the e-heat come on during defrost. Any help with that would be much appreciated. A word about my HVAC guy. I'm a renter. The landlord has an arrangement with HVAC. He doesn't get paid. So as long as I'm not freezing the HVAC repair guy is not coming out. I'm left to my own or move out.
 
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Old 12-26-13, 07:27 AM
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warm spell

We had a couple of warm days before Christmas and HP did not run. Started gettin back to usual Temps and no noticeable odors. I am assuming it is going into defrost. Anyone know much about how a defrost timer in newest Tane works. I have a tech narrative of the XL1000 and the old Ge unit was nothing but a mechanical timer that would run below about 40 degrees, it always worked. Will keep my sniffer on the alert. When will they design one that will detect a needed defrost rather than just random needed or not.
 
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Old 01-03-14, 09:28 AM
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More

Really cold here in CVA. I think our HP ran all night At least most of it. I am assuming it did defrost some during the night. Now and then a hint what seems like fresh latex paint or wet drywall compound. Nothing devastating. If it was bad my wife would be complaining. She got sick when we had last unit was installed. She says they aren't touching this one becasue it is working. She is shy because our last unit went downhill from the first service call. It was like a bull in a china shop. The back door was open and all it had to do was walk out but before it did a lot of damage was done. Never let a guy reccomended by your brother that shows up with his tools in a bucket in the back of his truck and just got off work at a government funded facility. That was the first nail in the coffin. Then got a reputable firm that ended up costing thousands and the unit died a slow death.
 
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Old 01-03-14, 09:37 AM
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Coated coil problem primarily with trane and american standard, well know issue on new units. You need a tech that has the the inside knowledge to help push the warranty through the system. As you say the guy with the tool bucket in the back of the truck is NOT going to be able to help you on this. Call the largest Trane dealer in your region and request a tech and document everything..... semi secret recall you have probably run into this on your vehicle sometime before. They are not offering to wholesale replace stinking coils but will do it if presented with evidence and backed in a corner.
 
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Old 01-07-14, 04:49 PM
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Brrrrrrrrrr

Yesterday and tonight will be tight on the HP's. Mine ran all night and went through a lot of maybe defrost cycles. Too cold to go out and see. Temp 3am was 7 degrees. Got a text from a friend that he was putting his in Emergency Heat as he didn't think it was heating enough. I left ours alone and stayed toasty at 74 all night. When it went into defrost there was a cool blast of air briefly followed by warm air. Apparently new Tstat doesn't indicate Aux heater on like the old one did. Not enough moisture to frost much and defrost ends rather quickly. We have had a lot of rain but warm enough not to be a big ice problem. The winds come along and blow most of the moisture in the air away. Still waiting to see what snow if ever will do. In the past with old systems, I would watch and if unit is packed pretty tight, will go to Emer-Heat and clean around coil and if sun is out and finish the job. What's the lowest temp is debatiable. An old HVAC Tech told me let it run but watch for excesive snow and sometimes ice build-up go to e-heat. The Fan is what's having the hardest time to pull air across coil.

As to the dirty sock smell??? Now and then something but wife says nothing. She is thankful for being warm. We have enough smells in a days time at this point especially when the wife is cooking and the cat is in the litter box. At this point not sure of anything.
 
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Old 12-17-14, 05:39 PM
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Noxious odor, health threat?

We have the same problem. The odor we have is during the cold night when the coils are hot and the air come on to cool them. Never heard of such a thing, but so our serviceman states. I would call it a sickening, chemical smell, rather than dirty socks or a burning smell. We are an older couple and the smell makes me sick, nauseous, gagging. I am having headaches. Could this be a heath issue? and if so, shouldn't Trane be more anxious to do something about it?
 
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Old 12-31-14, 11:31 AM
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York Foul Odor Problem Identified

Foul odor during defrost cycle.

Finally, after years of seasonal complaining, the technician that was dispatched under my warranty knew what I was talking about and has ordered a different set of coils. This is a known problem according to the tech. I don't know if this a geographical problem (mold/bacteria). According to my understanding, there are are different color codes for coils and he mentioned "blue" as being the problem ones.

Bottomline, York knows this is a problem. Don't let the tech tell you otherwise.

BTW..when I called for service I politely requested they send one of their most experienced technicians.

My York was installed in 2008 and is under a 10 year warranty. My problem started a year or 2 after the installation. I replaced the duct system in 2011 as I was being told this may be the source of my problem.
 

Last edited by b410berry; 12-31-14 at 11:33 AM. Reason: additional info.
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