When your air conditioner starts emitting strange or gross aromas, it is important to take notice because it could be a sign of a big problem. Dismissing unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioner could lead to additional damage to your HVAC system or even pose a risk to your health and safety.
Depending on the smell, the root of the problem may be bacteria or fungus in the system. On the other hand, it could also sign something mechanically wrong with the air conditioner. Some smells are a warning of an unsafe scenario, like a natural gas leak.
At Franklin's Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc, we have a nose for these sorts of things. If you smell something odd coming from your cooling system, you can bet that our team of qualified specialists has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned the reputation as the go-to team for air conditioning repair in Oxford.
What does a certain smell wafting out of your AC mean? Here are some typical air conditioner aromas and what they might mean:
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet
If your air conditioner smells like feet, it may be caused by a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the unit. When moisture builds inside the unit, it can produce an environment that is favorable to the spread of bacteria and fungus. This can produce a nasty odor that is often described as smelling like stinky feet.
Another likely reason for the smell could be a dirty air filter. When the air filter becomes filled with dirt, dust and other debris, it can cause substandard air quality and a musty smell that bears a resemblance to feet.
To correct this unpleasant situation, it's important to have a quality service tech inspect and clean your air conditioning system, including the evaporator coil, drain pan and condensate drain line. It's also important to change the air filter regularly to provide good air quality and prevent the formation of bacteria and fungus.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs
If your air conditioning equipment stinks like rotten eggs, it might be because of a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a unique odor, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur, which is added to it to make it easily detectable.
A natural gas leak is extremely dangerous and requires immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, immediately open windows and doors to air out the area, get everyone out of the building and call your gas company or emergency services immediately.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew
If your cooling system is giving off an odor like mildew, it may be due to a accumulation of moisture inside the unit. When moisture accumulates inside an air conditioner, it can promote the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty odor that resembles mildew.
Another possible cause of the smell may be a soiled 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 Franklin's Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc can help protect against both of these situations, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a great way to keep your system working at its best!
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine
One of the most undesirable scenarios is when your AC smells like urine.
If your air conditioning equipment stinks like urine, it could be due to a variety of factors. One likely cause is a accumulation of bacteria or mold in the your cooling system. This can happen in the event that moisture accumulates in the system and creates a moist environment that is conducive to bacterial growth. The bacteria can emit a foul odor that some people describe as smelling like urine.
Another possible cause of the scent of urine 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 can stink like urine.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic
If your air conditioning system smells like burning plastic, it might be because of an electrical problem with the unit. After some time, the electrical elements in the air conditioning system can wear out or malfunction, which can make a burning smell that resembles plastic.
Another possible root cause of the smell could be a foreign object stuck in the HVAC system. If something foreign gets trapped in the air conditioning system, it can get hot and cause a smell like burning plastic.
If you smell burning plastic coming from your AC unit, it’s essential to phone a professional right away.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas
If your air conditioning smells like gas, it could be due to a natural gas leak in the unit or in another part of your home. Natural gas has a distinct smell, often described as smelling similar to rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because a smell is added to natural gas so that it is easily detectable.
As mentioned previously, a natural gas leak can be VERY dangerous 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, evacuate the building and contact your gas company or emergency services as soon as possible.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish
If your AC smell like fish, it could be due to a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture causes an environment that promotes the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a foul odor that can be described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can cause a smell like dirty feet.
Another possible cause of the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material caught in the air conditioning system. This often is possible if an animal such as a mouse or bird is trapped inside the unit and dies.
To correct the issue, it's important to have a professional inspect and clean your cooling system. They will be able to find 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 numerous reasons your AC smells like vinegar. One possible cause is a clogged air filter. A second likely cause of the smell might be a refrigerant leak. If the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that is similar to vinegar.
To fix the issue, it's important to have a skilled specialist look at and clean your air conditioning. If the odor continues after the cleaning and changing of the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to diagnose and repair any underlying issues with your air conditioning. Or, the mechanic can tell you if your air conditioning should be replaced.
If you are looking to upgrade, Franklin's Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc can help select the ideal unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer dependable, professional air conditioner installation in Oxford.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals
If the smell of chemicals is coming out of your air conditioning unit, it could be due to a refrigerant leak. In a situation where the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical scent that some people describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.
An additional possible cause of the smell could be an issue with the electrical wiring or parts inside the air conditioning system. This can cause a burning smell that is like chemicals or burning plastic.
If you suspect a refrigerant leak or an electrical concern, it's important to shut down your air conditioning system as soon as possible and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be dangerous and may require immediate attention to protect against injury or damage to your home.
Strange Smell Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at Franklin's Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc
If your air conditioner stinks and you aren’t able to fix it quickly on your own, contact the cooling professionals at Franklin's Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. We have years of experience working with a wide variety of cooling systems. Our crew has fixed countless air conditioning concerns through the years—including funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Oxford!