New central air smells like oil/sawdust w/fan on recirculate

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New central air smells like oil/sawdust w/fan on recirculate

Postby Trading10 » Sat Aug 18, 2012 4:10 am

Hello,

I am posting here for the first time seeking help about the smell coming from our brand new central a/c when the fan is switched 'on' to constantly recirculate the air. The smell is not noticeable to me during the period when the a/c is cooling.

We also got an electronic air cleaner. The problem is that, from day one, the air coming out smells slightly like a oily machine shop and sawdust. My eyes seem to burn a little, some sneezing, headache, and I feel like I have sinus pressure behind my eyes and I also feel a little floaty in the head like you would from a sinus infection.

I had the installer back out here the other day because the electronic air cleaner had not been working after the install (which is supposed to kill mold, bacteria, viruses, etc), and I asked him to investigate this stink. He said he checked the condenser coils and the drip pan, but found nothing wrong. He installed a "C" shaped piece of pvc pipe to the drain that goes outside through the wall of the garage. While he did not know what was causing the smell, his theory with the additional dip in this drain pipe was that it would prevent humid air from being sucked back into the ventilation system. He also sprayed some kind of nice smelling cleaner in/on the coils, which was pleasant for an hour or so after he left.

I'm really concerned about the things I have read that might be happening, such as a refrigerant leak, microscopic mold that is invisible to the naked eye on the coils, oil coating on the coils from the manufacturer, and mold build up in the duct work (which is largely flexible insulated tubing).

What can I do? We invested our life savings into buying our first house (finally at the age of 43!!), and had to finance the cost of the a/c unit because it just gets too hot in my office to work without my computer equipment overheating.

Who here is good at diagnosing things that could sort this out?

Thanks in advance to anyone that can help.

-Tom I.
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- New central air smells like oil/sawdust w/fan on recircu

Postby Freon » Sat Aug 18, 2012 6:53 am

First observation about his theory, "...his theory with the additional dip in this drain pipe was that it would prevent humid air from being sucked back into the ventilation system." is incorrect. In the evaporator coil (indoor coil) there is positive air pressure so any flow of air through the drain of the condensate drain pan (the pan under the evaporator coil that catches the water condensing on the coil) would be out of the ventilation system, not in.

I suspect your smelling the residual oil on the evaporator coil left over from manufacturing. In a short time it will dissipate and you shouldn't have any issues. Consider it the "new car" smell of your new system. Other than use a good coil cleaning detergent on the indoor coil there's not much you can do.
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