South Florida has some unique smells -like when you were on your way to the beach and you’re starting to smell that salt air; the Everglades and that earthly, swampy smell, the canals, wild palms and pines in the hot weather and the asphalt as it rains sulfur sprinkler water and coconut sunscreen to name a few.

White sand, warm weather and lovely oceans are just a few of the benefits of living in a tropical area like South Florida. However, with that tropical climate come a few definite smell and bad odor drawbacks. The high humidity in South Florida can be a major headache. Mildew and mold grows easily in high-humidity and if you ever have a water issue, like a leaky pipe or a minor flood, the rain that got in your car; odor causing bacteria can get established fast and releases spores as it reproduces. These spores can make your auto and home have a musty and dirty odor or worse smell like something that has died. Any food spills not cleaned up 100% can start to cause odor headaches as the bacteria will start to react to any moisture in the air and multiply in strength as the heat reacts with it.

For all the snowbirds; your condo / house that’s been closed up for a long time in a damp area, such as a lakeside, canal, or ocean vacation home, may reveal a surprise the next time it’s opened: a strong musty odor. That mustiness is a sign of moisture or dampness. Over time, damp and dark conditions contribute to the problem which make a house smell musty. The best way to deal with musty odors is to try to prevent them in the first place by keeping the air within dry — but that’s not always possible. Most people do not leave their A/C on when they are away most of the year. And there is the double whammy odor problem once you turn the A/C back on. Air conditioning, particularly central air, is a luxury for some and a necessity to others. Either way, it’s supposed to make you comfortable, and that’s not possible if there’s an unpleasant, musty smell coming out of your vents. That smell is mildew, and it indicates that there has been moisture in the duct system and that the unit may require maintenance but most likely a proper odor removal service will solve the issue without major downtime and cost. Once repairs are complete, you will still need to get rid of all lingering odors and eliminate any possible health hazards associated with inhalation.

One of the most common causes of high-efficiency HVAC odor is moisture that has spawned mildew or mold. Commonly known as a “dirty sock” smell, the odor comes from the mold that has made a home on your unit’s evaporator coils, on the surface of the liner, in the drip pans and on drain lines, according to the Florida Department of Health. The odor is one indicator of the mold; it’s an earthy, stale, musty smell that actually does resemble a dirty sock odor. The owners of high-efficiency HVAC systems often use high-efficiency filters that remove odors from the air as it is filtered through the system. Owners assume that all odors are filtered out, but that is not true. The filters and other air cleaning devices that work with the high-efficiency HVAC units cannot filter pungent odors like that of smoke, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The presence of a stale, cigarette smell (more on tobacco later) in a smoker’s home will remain despite the high-efficiency filter or air cleaning system that is working alongside the HVAC unit. Dangerous carbon monoxide, paint fumes and cleaners are other gases and odors that are not removed from these systems. The rest of the system can produce odors that may seem to come from the unit, but actually do not. Moisture and debris in the ducts are often the next best culprits for HVAC system odors. Decomposing rodents and decaying items like food dropped into the ducts through the floor vents is another source of odors. You can often pinpoint the location of the odor source by smell; the strongest scent is near the source of the odor.

Your comfort and health depend on removing musty smell from the car or house. Musty house smell removal can be a tough nut to crack as services vary as much as prices to solve the issues.
Step 1. Do a visual inspection of the carpet in the door areas. Spot any dark areas or discoloration.
Step 2. Check the bathrooms, window sills, and sliding glass patio doors for signs of a water leak. Any discoloration and staining will be key.
Step 3. Do not use any house hold cleaners at this point as they will only cover-up and not kill the bacteria making for a funky mix!
Step 4. For your A/C system, turn the fan speed on high and try to smell it coming from the ventilation system -the culprit could be a slimy, dark sludge that feeds on the moisture in the high efficiency unit.
Step 5. If you need help – call an expert before your arrival back to your South Florida home / condo becomes hazardous to your mood and / or health!