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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    8

    Transformer and skunk smell problem.

    2 questions:

    I am in heating season for the past week and it smells like a skunk in my ducts and where the blower motor sits. It is especially noticeable when I come home from work and the house has been sitting all day. Read another forum where someone had the EXACT same problem after having blower motor replaced. My motor was replaced 3 months ago. It seems to only be an issue now that I am heating. I have SCRUBBED the coil with vinegar, bleach and professional "Coil-Rite". The coil DOES NOT SMELL. The smell is down at the blower. Is there a rubber bushing or something the blower sits on. I've smelled this smell before on thick black rubber bushings... totally unrelated to HVAC. No there is not a dead skunk under the house. The odor has decreased these past 2 days because I was back on cooling mode since it got hot out.

    This lead me to my second question... In the quest to find the odor I noticed the step down transformer is SUPER HOT. Like can keep your finger on it for 20 seconds but then it hurts too much. The transformer cools down when the blower kicks on because of the air flow. But if the unit just sits and the house stays at a temp that doesn't call the unit for like an hour or two it gets REAL HOT. However it functions fine. Local HVAC guy who did the motor install didn't seemed concerned about the transformer being THAT hot and other than a coil cleaning had no idea on the odor per our phone conversation.

    Any ideas?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    2,881
    I simply have to assume you have been in the house and know the system. If new system to you than, who knows? I can tell you a myriad of stories.

    I have to ask, have you had the Fall Maintenance done? We find all kinds of things on maintenance that could cause this odor. It is usually temporary and will go away (but alas, the cause will not usually help you sleep at night.)

    I know this sounds morbid, but is the pet guinea pig missing?

    There are other causes to putrid smell, but the years in home will help us diagnose those better.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    8
    been in the house 3 years... renting... but i am very handy, have owned homes and i am familiar with this unit from crawling around on it. it is located in a closet in the house so it is easily accessible. as far as maintenance goes it is a heat pump so it's basically the inside and outside coil. when i scrubbed the coil inside it really cleaned out the drain lines. a lot of scale and gunk were flushed out. that coil does not smell at all. i stick my nose on it and nothing. it is when i stick my nose in the blower dept. i vaguely remember a smell like this sometime in the past three years but never this intense.

    no messing pets...lol. if it were a dead animal it would have more of a rotten smell. this is a skunky smell. ever smell real black rubber? like a thick black rubber bushing. they can have a skunky smell just like this.

    the smell has diminished some over the past week. but i can still smell it because now i am so tuned into it. my kids noticed it as well.

    i looked forward to your thoughts. any ideas on the super hot transformer?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    520

    Talking

    Its probably the vinegar you put on the coils, I have never heard of that solution before, plus it stinks like hell. You probably ruined your coils now with the vinegar reacting with the dirty sock syndrome. Im sorry to inform you, you may have opened up a can of worms. If the blower is fine during cool mode, then it should be fine on heat mode too for a heat-pump system. As far as the transformer, call your tech back out to look at it again, but they do get warm sometimes.....

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Houston, Texas
    Posts
    11,874
    First I've ever heard of the "old vinegar trick" too. Where'd that come from?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Pinellas County, Fl
    Posts
    78
    Yeh they probably did or do have "Smelly Sock Syndrome" It usually appears in the first few weeks of the heating cycle on certain heat pumps. Have a tech verify it though.
    On another note, why would you put a corrosive like bleach on a copper / alluminum coil, that has to have had done some damage on the coil, and possibly have voided the warranty if there was any left.
    Just another reason why DIY is not recommended.
    Improvise, Adapt and Overcome

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Houston, Texas
    Posts
    11,874
    Quote Originally Posted by jdrob12000 View Post
    Yeh they probably did or do have "Smelly Sock Syndrome" It usually appears in the first few weeks of the heating cycle on certain heat pumps. Have a tech verify it though.
    On another note, why would you put a corrosive like bleach on a copper / alluminum coil, that has to have had done some damage on the coil, and possibly have voided the warranty if there was any left.
    Just another reason why DIY is not recommended.
    I think, don't ask, don't tell in this case would suffice.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Pinellas County, Fl
    Posts
    78
    Quote Originally Posted by the dangling wrangler View Post
    I think, don't ask, don't tell in this case would suffice.
    yeh that might get by, Me I'd Void it.
    Improvise, Adapt and Overcome

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Houston, Texas
    Posts
    11,874
    Quote Originally Posted by jdrob12000 View Post
    yeh that might get by, Me I'd Void it.
    Well, if ya know about it, ya almost have to.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    8
    geesh tough crowd here... thanks for the advice and not helping with the question, to answer your questions... vinegar is a natural deodorizer, i was aware of that and another HVAC guy also recommended it. the skunk smell was there before the vinegar and bleach and Coil-Rite and is still there. i can assure you the coil is fine, undamaged and smells fresh and clean. all 3 cleaners with thoroughly rinsed off with hot water after each was applied to ensure there was no residue left. none were left to sit on the coil for more than 30 mins. the unit has no warranty as it is over 20 years old. we can debate all day about DIY and the pros and about voiding warranties if you were my HVAC guy but ultimately that isn't why i came on this forum. i looking for ideas about where this odor might come from.

    i understand the dirty sock syndrome and can assure you that is NOT the smell. the odor is skunk like stinky rubber and comes from where the blower sits NOT at the coil. can't stress enough how this is not a coil issue and the smell is not anywhere near the coil. it comes from teh blower compartment.

    at one point i thought the transformer getting so hot might have been causing the smell but it doesn't appear to be the case. i have never seen a littel transformer get that hot... i'm talking you can't touch it for more than 20 secs.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Houston, Texas
    Posts
    11,874
    OK. If the smell isn't from the coil, then why keep spraying it with the makings of a salad? Anyone checked inside the blower housing yet? Is the unit near a sewer vent? 20 years old, I'm guessing some rotted metal there somewhere. Duct work, or unit cabinet possibly.
    Without a fuse, the transformer would destroy itself in less than five minutes.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    8
    the coil cleaning was process of elimination. i have completely ruled that out now. i agree on the age being a factor but if it were something like corroded metal why would it be strong a week ago and now fading away, all be it still lingering. it's not consistent which makes this so frustrating. my guess is it will eventually fade off but i would like to find teh root to keep it from happening again.

    as far as transformer goes i can't believe this thing gets as hot as it does and doesn't fail. it just buzzes along and is too hot to keep your finger on. unless you catch it after the blower motor has run. then it is cooled down since air has been moving over it. there is a fuse regarding all of the 24v wiring. the unit works completely fine even with the transformer as hot as it is.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Houston, Texas
    Posts
    11,874
    Have the transformer replaced if it really bothers you.

    What is your service company offering, as to what the smell might be?
    If you didn't have this problem before the motor replacement, ya have to think the two are related somehow, some way. Could possibly be a motor mounting bushing, rubbing on the wheel. Hard to smell from here.

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