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6 Reasons Your AC Smells Like It’s Burning (& What To Do)

Air Conditioner Smell

An air conditioner is a way to provide ease and comfort in extreme weather, but the most inconvenient thing is to get a burning smell as soon as you turn it on.

You might wonder what the reason is. Rest assured that usually, the burning smell indicates nothing serious, but if you notice a change in the performance of your device, it is better to seek professional help.


There are several reasons why your air conditioner can emit a burning smell. Some reasons are harmless that can be fixed with simple DIY skills, while others require an expert solution.

The most common reasons are:

  • Clogged air filter
  • Burning of dust
  • Broken capacitor
  • Overheated motor

Are you intrigued to know more? Then, read further as we uncover six reasons your AC feels like it’s burning and easy ways to fix it.

6 Reasons Your AC Smells Like Burning (+Fixes)

Nobody likes to have a burning smell in an air-conditioned room; it is unpleasant and worrisome. However, if you are encountering it after turning on your AC, there are several reasons for it.

Here are some common ones, along with their easy fixes:

1. Burning of Dust

Hvac Dust

If you haven’t used your AC in a while, turning it on can cause a burning smell. The HVAC starts collecting dust if it is kept unused for a long.

The good news is that this burning smell is harmless and will go away in a few minutes after turning it on.


It is advisable to stay out of the room after turning on the AC to avoid the smell. Going for regular and thorough maintenance at the start of the season to have it appropriately cleaned is also a great practice.

2. Clogged Air Filters

Clogged Air Conditional Filter

Air filters are a crucial part of the air conditioners that filters the air before coming out of the ducts. However, your filters can accumulate dust and debris after prolonged use, resulting in severe blockage.

The blocked air filters force the motor to work more fiercely to maintain the desired temperature resulting in a burning smell.


The overuse of the motor due to clogged filters can be the culprit for the burning smell. However, you can quickly fix this by thoroughly cleaning the air filters and regularly unblocking them for maximum airflow.

3. Overheated Motor

Air Conditional Motor

If you have an old worn-out motor in your air conditioner, it can also cause a burning smell after overuse. This is because the motor’s bearing starts melting due to overworking, causing an unpleasant odor.


If you find out your motor is causing the burning smell, it is advisable to shut your HVAC and seek professional help immediately. Either a repair or replacement will help you get rid of the smell.

Moreover, a new motor will also help increase the efficiency of your air conditioner.

4. Damaged Capacitor

Ac Capacitor

A capacitor is a powerful device that provides the initial jolt of electricity, helping your AC motor to turn on. It saves electricity and supplies it to the motor in a powerful burst to kick-start the device in no time.

Your capacitor can get damaged for several reasons, like overheated circuitry, power surges, or general wear and tear.


If your capacitor is damaged, it is better to replace it as soon as possible because a faulty capacitor can pressurize your motor to overwork resulting in severe damage.

5. Overheated Belt Drive Motor

Ac Belt Drive Motor

The air conditioners have several models, and they work with different technologies. For example, if your AC works with a belt drive blower, chances are it can get damaged after a few years resulting in a rubber-burning smell.


It is advisable to immediately replace your belt if it is damaged, as running your HVAC with a faulty belt drive motor can cause irreplaceable damage to your system.

6. Faulty Electrical Components

Ac Electrical

Your AC comprises several plastic components, screws, and wires that can get faulty, resulting in a gross burning smell.

If you cannot find any specific reasons for the odor, chances are the internal components of your machine are broken or melting due to an electrical short circuit.


It is advisable to immediately turn your AC off and seek professional help to know the root cause of the problem and possible fixes for it.


An air conditioner is an efficient appliance that is a must-have in every home. It is good to keep your device maintained to avoid damage and faults.

If your AC has a burning smell, don’t take it lightly; try to find the root cause and act immediately.

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