When your air conditioner starts emitting unusual or unappealing aromas, it is necessary to take notice because it could be a sign of a major problem. Disregarding unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioner may lead to serious damage to your air conditioning or even pose a risk to your health and safety.
Depending on the smell, the cause might be bacteria or fungus in the system. Other times, it could also indicate something mechanically wrong with the AC. Some smells are even indicative of a harmful situation, like a natural gas leak.
At Walter's-Eaton's Electric, Plumbing, Heating & AC, we have a nose for these sorts of things. If you smell something peculiar coming from your AC, there's a good chance our team of qualified specialists has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned our reputation as the first call for air conditioning repair in Ellsworth.
What does a certain smell wafting coming from your cooling system mean? Here are several common air conditioner smells and what they could mean:
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet
If your air conditioner smells like feet, it may be because of a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the unit. When moisture accumulates inside the unit, it can produce an environment that is beneficial to the growth of bacteria and fungus. This can produce a bad odor that is often described as smelling like dirty feet.
Another likely explanation for an odor of stinky feet might be a dirty air filter. When the air filter becomes filled with dirt, dust and other debris, it can lead to poor air quality and a musty smell that it similar to the smell of feet.
To fix this problem, it's important to have an experienced specialist inspect and clean your air conditioning system, including the evaporator coil, drain pan and condensate drain line. It's also important to exchange the air filter on a regular basis to ensure good air quality and prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs
If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, it could be because of a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a distinctive odor, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur, that is added to it to make it easily detectable.
A natural gas leak is a situation that is very dangerous and requires immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, immediately open windows and doors to ventilate the area, evacuate the building and call your gas company or emergency services at once.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew
If your air conditioner smells like mildew, it may be due to a collection of moisture inside the unit. When moisture forms inside a cooling system, it can promote the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty odor that it similar to mildew.
Another possible cause of the smell may be a dirty air filter. When the air filter becomes clogged, it can result in poor air quality and a musty smell that is similar to mildew.
Routine air conditioning maintenance from Walter's-Eaton's Electric, Plumbing, Heating & AC can help avoid both of these problems, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a great way to keep your system operating at its best!
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine
One of the most unpleasant scenarios is when an air conditioner smells like urine.
If your air conditioning equipment reeks of urine, it could be due to a variety of factors. One possible cause is a buildup of bacteria or mold in the your HVAC. This can happen in the event that moisture accumulates in the system and creates a damp environment that favorable for bacterial growth. The bacteria can emit a foul odor that is like urine.
Another feasible cause of the stink could be a clogged drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away correctly, but if the drain line becomes filled with debris, it can cause water to back up and accumulate inside the unit. This can generate a musty smell that is sometimes described as smelling of urine.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic
If your AC smells like burning plastic, this could indicate an electrical issue with the unit. Over time, the electrical components in the air conditioning system can wear out or bust, which can create a burning smell that resembles plastic.
Another possible reason for the smell could be a foreign object lodged in the unit. If something foreign gets caught in the air conditioning system, it can become hot and cause a smell that reminds people of burning plastic.
If you smell burning plastic coming from your AC unit, it’s essential to call a professional right away.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas
If your AC smells like gas, there could be a natural gas leak in the unit or in another part of your home. Natural gas has a distinctive odor, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because an odor is incorporated into natural gas to make it easily detectable.
As stated earlier, a natural gas leak can be VERY hazardous and calls for immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, open windows and doors to air out the home, leave the building and call your gas company or emergency services straight away.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish
If your air conditioning equipment smell like fish, it could be due to a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture creates an environment that is conducive to the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a foul odor that is often described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can result in a smell like dirty feet.
Another plausible explanation for the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material caught within the air conditioning system. This often can take place if an animal such as a mouse or bird becomes trapped inside the unit and dies.
To correct the issue, it's important to have a professional inspect and clean your air conditioning system. They should be able to determine the source of the smell and take the appropriate steps to remove any contaminants and stop the problem from recurring.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar
There could be multiple reasons your air conditioning system smells like vinegar. One possible cause of the smell could be a plugged air filter. Another possible cause of the smell could be a refrigerant leak. Sometimes after the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that resembles vinegar.
To fix the issue, it's important to have a skilled mechanic inspect and clean your air conditioning. If the odor lingers after the cleaning and replacing of the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to identify and repair any hidden issues with your air conditioning. Or, the tech can tell you if your air conditioning should be replaced.
If you are wanting to upgrade, Walter's-Eaton's Electric, Plumbing, Heating & AC can help select the correct unit to fit your home’s needs. We provide reliable, skilled air conditioner installation in Ellsworth.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals
If the smell of chemicals is emitting out of your air conditioning equipment, it could be the result of a refrigerant leak. If the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical aroma that is often described as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.
Another possible source of the smell could be an issue with the electrical wiring or elements inside the air conditioning system. This can produce a burning smell that it similar to chemicals or burning plastic.
If you suspect a refrigerant leak or an electrical problem, it's important to shut down your air conditioning system immediately and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be hazardous and may require immediate attention to avoid injury or damage to your house.
Strange Smell Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at Walter's-Eaton's Electric, Plumbing, Heating & AC
If your air conditioner reeks and you aren’t able to fix it easily on your own, call the cooling experts at Walter's-Eaton's Electric, Plumbing, Heating & AC. We have years of experience working with a wide variety of cooling systems. Our crew has fixed many air conditioning problems throughout the years—including strange smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Ellsworth!