One of the reasons I change it every 12 months.
Mold will exist only is specific situations.
- Its needs dark. No sunlight allowed.
- Humidity over 60%. Higher the better.
- Temperature over 70 degrees F.
- No air movement or in other words stale air. A plugged filter would provide that.
It will grow only with all those above conditions.
Under these conditions it will grow unabated.
Also please remember mold is around us all the time.
I would see if the a fresh filter solves your problem of the funky smell first.
Most likely its a damp filter growing the stuff.
Good filters usually have an anti microbial coating on them which helps retard the mold growth.
The filter would have to be plugged up enough the retard the air flow. That air flow would remove the moisture in the system if there ids air flow.
That is assuming the AC drain pan is draining properly also.
Any dealer job would be expensive as there is a big disassembly/reassembly to do.
A dealer clean job is not cheap.
Good luck and let us know how it comes out.