When your air conditioner starts emitting unusual or unappealing smells, it is necessary to take notice because it could be a sign of a big problem. Dismissing unpleasant smells coming from your cooling system could lead to further damage to your HVAC system or even pose a risk to your health and safety.
Depending on what you're smelling, the cause may be bacteria or fungus in the system. Other times, it could also sign something mechanically wrong with the air conditioning system. Some smells are a sign of a harmful scenario, including a natural gas leak.
At Gopher Heating and Air Conditioning, we have a nose for these sorts of things. If you smell something weird coming from your AC, chances are our team of qualified pros has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned the reputation as the first call for air conditioning repair in Savage.
What does a specific odor wafting coming from your cooling system mean? Here are several frequent air conditioner smells and what they may mean:
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet
If your air conditioner smells like feet, it could be because of a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the system. When moisture accumulates inside the unit, it can establish an environment that is favorable to the growth of bacteria and fungus. This can result in a foul odor that is often described as smelling like feet.
Another potential explanation for an odor of stinky feet could be a dirty air filter. When the air filter becomes choked with dirt, dust and other contaminants, it can cause poor air quality and a musty smell that resembles feet.
To correct this unpleasant situation, 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 routinely to ensure good air quality and prevent the development of bacteria and fungus.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs
If your 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 because of a substance added to it to make it easily detectable.
A natural gas leak is extraordinarily 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 cooling system smells like mildew, it may be due to a buildup of moisture inside the unit. When moisture forms inside the air conditioning system, it can cultivate the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty smell that bears a resemblance to mildew.
Another possible reason for the smell might be a dirty air filter. Once the air filter becomes clogged, it can cause poor air quality and a musty smell that has a resemblance to mildew.
Annual air conditioning maintenance from Gopher Heating and Air Conditioning can help prevent both of these situations, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a terrific way to keep your system running at its best!
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine
One of the most undesirable situations is when the air coming out of your HVAC system smells like urine.
If your air conditioning reeks of urine, it could could be caused by multiple factors. One potential cause is a buildup of bacteria or mold in the your cooling system. This can happen when moisture accumulates in the system and creates a moist environment that can promote bacterial growth. The bacteria can produce a foul odor that some people describe as smelling like urine.
Another possible cause of the smell could be a clogged drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away effectively, but if the drain line becomes filled with debris, it can cause water to back up and collect inside the unit. This can create 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, a possible cause could be an electrical problem with the unit. Over time, the electrical parts in the air conditioning system can wear out or malfunction, which can make a burning smell that resembles plastic.
Another possible reason for the smell could be a foreign object lodged in the the air conditioner. If something foreign gets trapped in the air conditioning system, it can heat up and result in a smell that reminds people of burning plastic.
If you notice something that smells like 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, there could be a natural gas leak in the unit or in your home. Natural gas has a recognizable smell, often described as smelling of rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because a smell is put into natural gas so that it is easily detectable.
As mentioned previously, a natural gas leak can be VERY harmful and calls for immediate attention. When you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, open windows and doors to air out the home, evacuate the building and call your gas company or emergency services as soon as possible.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish
When your air conditioning equipment smell like fish, this could be a sign of a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture causes an environment that is conducive to the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a disgusting odor that is often described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can result in a smell like dirty feet.
Another potential cause of the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material caught inside the air conditioning system. This often can take place if an animal such as a mouse or bird gets trapped inside the unit and dies.
To solve the issue, it's worthwhile to have a professional inspect and clean your air conditioning system. They can determine the source of the smell and take the proper steps to remove any contaminants and keep the problem from recurring.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar
There could be multiple reasons an air conditioner smells like vinegar. One possible cause is a plugged air filter. Another likely cause of the smell may be a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that is described as smelling of vinegar.
To fix the issue, it's beneficial to have a skilled specialist 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 mechanic can tell you if your air conditioning should be replaced.
If you are wanting to upgrade, Gopher Heating and Air Conditioning can help find the right unit to fit your home’s needs. We deliver dependable, skilled air conditioner installation in Savage.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals
If the smell of chemicals is emitting out of your air conditioner, it could be due to a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical scent that people sometimes describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.
Another possible reason for the smell could be something wrong with the electrical wiring or parts inside the air conditioning system. This can result in 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 off your air conditioning system right away 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 Gopher Heating and Air Conditioning
If your air conditioner smells nasty and you aren’t able to fix it simply on your own, contact the cooling professionals at Gopher Heating and Air Conditioning. We have lots of experience working with a wide variety of air conditioning systems. Our crew has fixed countless air conditioning troubles through the years—including funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Savage!