When your air conditioner starts emitting odd or gross odors, it is necessary to take notice because it could be a sign of a big problem. Disregarding unpleasant smells coming from your cooling system can lead to serious damage to your AC or even pose a risk to your health and safety.
Depending on what you're smelling, the cause might be bacteria or fungus in the system. Other times, it could also signal something mechanically wrong with the air conditioning system. Some smells are a sign of a harmful situation, such as a natural gas leak.
At AW Heating & Air Conditioning, we are experienced at getting to the root cause of stinky smells. If you smell something weird coming from your air conditioner, chances are our team of skilled pros has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned our reputation as the premier company for air conditioning repair in Lincoln.
What does a certain smell billowing coming from your air conditioning mean? Here are some frequent air conditioner aromas and what they might mean:
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet
If your air conditioner smells like feet, it can be caused by a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the unit. When moisture accumulates inside the unit, it can produce an environment that is conducive to the spread of bacteria and fungus. This can cause a foul odor that is often described as smelling like feet.
Another potential explanation for the stench of dirty feet could be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes choked with dirt, dust and other debris, it can lead to substandard 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 change the air filter routinely to provide good air quality and restrict the formation of bacteria and fungus.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs
If your air conditioning equipment smells 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 because of a substance added to it to make it easily detectable.
A natural gas leak can be 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 immediately.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew
If your AC smells like mildew, it may be due to a buildup of moisture inside the unit. When moisture collects inside a cooling system, it can promote the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty stench that resembles mildew.
Another possible reason for the smell might 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 AW Heating & Air Conditioning can help protect against both of these problems, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a great way to keep your system running at its best!
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine
One of the most undesirable things is when an air conditioner smells like urine.
If your air conditioning stinks like urine, it could be due to a variety of factors. One likely cause is a collection 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 can promote 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 plugged drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away properly, but if the drain line becomes filled with debris, it can cause water to back up and accumulate 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 conditioner smells like burning plastic, it might be because of an electrical issue with the unit. After some time, the electrical parts in the air conditioning system can wear out or bust, which can produce a burning smell that resembles plastic.
Another possible reason for the smell could be a foreign object stuck in the HVAC system. If something foreign gets stuck in the air conditioning system, it can heat up and cause a smell that reminds people of burning plastic.
If you smell burning plastic coming from your cooling system, it’s important to contact 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 your home. Natural gas has a distinctive smell, often described as smelling of rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because an odor is added to natural gas so that it is easily detectable.
As mentioned before, a natural gas leak can be VERY harmful and needs immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, open windows and doors to air out the home, get everyone out of the building and call your gas company or emergency services as soon as possible.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish
When your AC smell like fish, it could be due to a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture produces an environment that promotes the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a disgusting odor that is sometimes 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 is possible if an animal such as a mouse or bird gets trapped inside the unit and dies.
To fix the issue, it's important to have a professional check out and clean your cooling system. They should be able to 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 clogged air filter. One other possible cause of the smell may be a refrigerant leak. If the refrigerant leaks, it can make a chemical odor that resembles vinegar.
To fix the issue, it's important to have a skilled tech examine and clean your air conditioning. If the odor persists after the cleaning and replacing of the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to identify and repair any persistent issues with your air conditioning. Or, they can tell you if your air conditioning should be replaced.
If you are planning to upgrade, AW Heating & Air Conditioning can help find the ideal unit to fit your home’s needs. We provide trustworthy, expert air conditioner installation in Lincoln.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals
If the smell of chemicals is coming 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 aroma that some people describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.
Another possible source of the smell could be a problem 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 think your system has a refrigerant leak or an electrical issue, it's important to turn off 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 prevent injury or damage to your home.
Strange Smell Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at AW Heating & Air Conditioning
If your air conditioner stinks and you aren’t able to fix it easily on your own, contact the cooling professionals at AW Heating & Air Conditioning. We have years of experience working with a wide variety of HVAC systems. Our crew has fixed a multitude of air conditioning problems over the years—including funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Lincoln!