When your air conditioner starts putting out unusual or gross odors, it is important to take notice because it could be a sign of a big problem. Disregarding unpleasant smells coming from your cooling system may lead to further damage to your air conditioning or even pose a risk to your health and safety.
Depending on what you're smelling, the root of the problem could be bacteria or fungus in the system. Other times, it could also signal something mechanically wrong with the air conditioner. Some smells are a sign of an unsafe scenario, like a natural gas leak.
At Forster Heating, we are experienced at getting to the root cause of stinky smells. If you smell something peculiar coming from your AC, there's a good chance our team of talented professionals has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned our reputation as the first call for air conditioning repair in Auburn.
What does a certain smell billowing out of your air conditioning mean? Here are some typical air conditioner aromas 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 inside of it. When moisture collects inside the unit, it can establish an environment that is conducive to the spread of bacteria and fungus. This can cause a nasty odor that is often described as smelling like stinky feet.
Another likely reason for the stench of dirty feet may be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes clogged with dirt, dust and other debris, it can result in poor air quality and a musty smell that it similar to the smell of feet.
To fix this issue, 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 replace the air filter routinely to provide good air quality and restrict the growth of bacteria and fungus.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs
If your air conditioning unit stinks like rotten eggs, it could be due to a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a distinct 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 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, make everyone leave the building and call your gas company or emergency services immediately.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew
If your air conditioner is giving off an odor like mildew, it could be due to a buildup of moisture inside the unit. When moisture collects inside a cooling system, it can foster the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty stench that bears a resemblance to mildew.
Another possible reason for the smell might be a dirty air filter. If the air filter becomes clogged, it can cause poor air quality and a musty smell that is similar to mildew.
Routine air conditioning maintenance from Forster Heating can help protect against both of these problems, 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 unpleasant things is when the air coming out of your HVAC system smells like urine.
If your air conditioning equipment stinks like urine, it could be traced back to a number of things. One potential cause is a buildup of bacteria or mold in the your HVAC. This can happen when moisture accumulates in the system and creates a wet environment that favorable for bacterial growth. The bacteria can produce a foul odor that is like urine.
Another feasible cause of the stink 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 produce a musty smell that can stink like urine.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic
If your air conditioner smells like burning plastic, this could indicate an electrical issue with the unit. Over time, the electrical elements in the air conditioning system can wear out or break, 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 caught in the air conditioning system, it can heat up and emit a smell similar to burning plastic.
If you notice something that smells like burning plastic coming from your cooling system, it’s important 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 another part of 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 to make sure that it is easily detectable.
As we said previously, a natural gas leak can be VERY hazardous 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 phone your gas company or emergency services straight away.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish
Should your air conditioner smell like fish, you may have a situation where there's 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 strong odor that is sometimes described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can cause a smell like dirty feet.
Another potential cause of the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material stuck inside the air conditioning system. This often can happen if an animal such as a mouse or bird becomes trapped inside the unit and dies.
To correct the issue, it's often necessary to have a professional check out and clean your HVAC system. They can determine the source of the smell and take the appropriate steps to remove any contaminants and prevent the problem from recurring.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar
There could be numerous reasons an air conditioner smells like vinegar. One possible cause might be a clogged air filter. A second possible cause of the smell might be a refrigerant leak. If the refrigerant leaks, it can make a chemical odor that is described as smelling of vinegar.
To fix the issue, it's essential to have a skilled mechanic 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 persistent issues with your air conditioning. Or, the tech can tell you if your air conditioning ought to be replaced.
If you are planning to upgrade, Forster Heating can help select the right unit to fit your home’s needs. We deliver dependable, professional air conditioner installation in Auburn.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals
If the smell of chemicals is coming from your air conditioning equipment, it could be the result of 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.
An additional possible source of 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 think your system has 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 home.
Strange Smell Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at Forster Heating
If your air conditioner smells nasty and you aren’t able to fix it smoothly on your own, reach out to the cooling specialists at Forster Heating. We have plenty of experience working with a wide variety of HVAC systems. Our crew has fixed countless air conditioning problems over the years—including funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Auburn!