When your air conditioner starts spewing unusual or gross smells, it is necessary to take notice because it could be a sign of a significant problem. Dismissing unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioning may lead to serious damage to your HVAC system or even pose a risk to your health and safety.
Depending on the cause of the odor, the culprit may be bacteria or fungus in the system. On the other hand, it could also signal something mechanically wrong with the air conditioning system. Some smells are a warning of a dangerous problem, including a natural gas leak.
At AC Sales, we have a nose for these sorts of things. If you smell something odd coming from your air conditioner, you can bet that our team of skilled specialists has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned a reputation as the premier company for air conditioning repair in Lafayette.
What does a specific odor wafting out of your AC mean? Here are several typical air conditioner smells and what they could mean:
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet
If your air conditioner smells like feet, it can be due to 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 development of bacteria and fungus. This can result in a bad odor that is often described as smelling like dirty feet.
Another possible reason for an odor of stinky feet might be a dirty air filter. When the air filter becomes choked with dirt, dust and other contaminants, it can lead to low air quality and a musty smell that bears a resemblance to feet.
To correct this issue, it's important to have a professional inspect and clean your air conditioning system, including the evaporator coil, drain pan and condensate drain line. It's also important to replace the air filter routinely to promote good air quality and protect against the growth of bacteria and fungus.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs
If your air conditioning equipment stinks like rotten eggs, it may be the result of a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a recognizable odor, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur, which is added to it to make it easily detectable.
A natural gas leak can be extremely 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, get everyone out of the building and call your gas company or emergency services right away.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew
If your air conditioner smells like mildew, it might be due to a collection of moisture inside the unit. When moisture collects inside a cooling system, it can cultivate the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty odor that resembles mildew.
Another possible reason for the smell could be a clogged air filter. If the air filter becomes clogged, it can cause poor air quality and a musty smell that resembles mildew.
Routine air conditioning maintenance from AC Sales can help protect against both of these situations, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a terrific way to keep your system operating at its best!
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine
One of the most distressing things is when the air coming out of your HVAC system smells like urine.
If your air conditioner reeks of urine, it could be traced back to a number of things. One likely 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 is conducive to bacterial growth. The bacteria can create a foul odor that resembles urine.
Another possible cause of the smell could be a plugged drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away properly, but if the drain line becomes choked with debris, it can cause water to back up and build up 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 air conditioning system smells like burning plastic, it might be because of an electrical issue with the unit. After a while, the electrical parts in the air conditioning system can wear out or malfunction, which can produce 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 heat up and cause a smell like burning plastic.
If you think you smell burning plastic coming from your air conditioner, it’s essential to call a professional right away.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas
If your air conditioning smells like gas, it could be because of a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a distinct odor, often described as smelling of rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because a smell is incorporated into natural gas to make it easily detectable.
As we said previously, a natural gas leak can be VERY harmful and requires 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 phone your gas company or emergency services right away.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish
Should your AC smell like fish, you may have a situation where there's a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture produces an environment that fosters 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 cause 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 is possible if an animal such as a mouse or bird becomes trapped inside the unit and dies.
To fix the issue, it's important to have a professional check out and clean your HVAC system. They can identify the source of the smell and take the correct steps to remove any contaminants and prevent 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. A second possible 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 tech inspect 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 find and repair any underlying issues with your air conditioning. Or, the tech can tell you if your air conditioning needs to be replaced.
If you are wanting to upgrade, AC Sales can help find the right unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer reliable, expert air conditioner installation in Lafayette.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals
If the smell of chemicals is emitting out of your air conditioning unit, it could be caused by a refrigerant leak. In a situation where the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that people sometimes describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.
An additional possible reason for the smell could be a problem with the electrical wiring or hardware inside the air conditioning system. This can result in a burning smell that resembles chemicals or burning plastic.
If you think your system has a refrigerant leak or an electrical concern, 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 harmful and may require immediate attention to protect against injury or damage to your residence.
Strange Smell Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at AC Sales
If your air conditioner smells nasty and you aren’t able to fix it simply on your own, call the cooling professionals at AC Sales. We have plenty of experience working with a wide variety of cooling systems. Our crew has fixed many air conditioning concerns over the years—including strange smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Lafayette!