6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Answered and How to Repair the Problem

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is spotless and running properly, it’s expected you won’t be smelling anything strange. Peculiar air conditioner noises and strange smells are a clue that something is out of whack. If your air conditioner is old or you haven’t had service done recently, they can be an obvious sign you need skilled air conditioning repair in Marshalltown.

Here are six of the top air conditioner smells and how you can resolve them.

1. Central Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If your air conditioner smells bad when turned on, specifically a chemical smell, isn’t a positive sign. You could also notice your:

  • Air conditioner smells like paint thinner
  • Home air conditioner smells sweet

These sweet, chemical scents are typically a sign that your air conditioner is experiencing a refrigerant leak. Your system uses this gas to transfer heat through copper coils, which can wear out as time goes on.

4 Hints You Have a Refrigerant Leak

Besides the weird smell, here are four other clues that you have a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner is operating.
  2. Ice crystals on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. It’s hard keeping your home cool or reaching your programmed temperature.
  4. Increasing utility bills.

How You Can Repair It

A refrigerant leak needs skilled support from a heating and cooling company like Kapaun & Brown Inc.. Your cooling professional will find and fix the leak before recharging your AC with refrigerant.

Repairing a refrigerant leak usually costs between $225 and $1,600, per nationwide averages compiled by HomeAdvisor. Your exact cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how long it needs to solve.

If your air conditioner was installed early than 2010, there’s a high probability it runs on R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being manufactured due to its damaging effects on the ozone layer. As a consequence, repairs can be extremely expensive so it may be best to do air conditioning installation in this situation.

2. Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, there’s likely nothing wrong with it. But there’s a significant probability you have a natural gas leak in your home. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to alert you when there’s a leak, since the gas can be deadly in heavy concentrations.

How You Can Solve It

If you detect a sulfur or rotten egg odor, we advise:

  • Shutting off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Leaving your home as soon as possible.
  • Getting in touch with your gas company immediately.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Individuals who contact us to report this situation frequently mention their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it runs. Also called dirty sock syndrome, this smell is typically caused by a filthy evaporator coil that has mold, mildew and bacteria buildup. Condensation can also make your home air conditioner smell bad. Dirty sock syndrome is most typical in locations where you need heating at night and during the morning before turning on cooling later on.

How to Solve It

The best approach for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to routinely replace your air filter and schedule routine air conditioning maintenance with Kapaun & Brown Inc.. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unclogged, because stagnant water can also create noxious odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are experiencing air conditioner mildew smell or a pungent, vinegar-like odor, it could be prompted by several issues, like:

  • A dirty filter
  • Extra condensation
  • Blocked condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Solve It

Check your filter first. If you haven’t replaced it within the last three months and can’t see light through it, we recommend replacing it. If that doesn’t solve the problem, contact Kapaun & Brown Inc. at 641-812-2028.

5. Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If you’re experiencing an air conditioner burning smell or that your air conditioner smells like fish, there could be several things wrong. These entail:

  • Broken capacitator that’s overheating the motor.
  • Motor that should have lubrication.
  • Broken fan belt.
  • Electrical issue.

Electrical problems should be checked immediately to prevent a fire. If you notice burning plastic when your air conditioner is running, shut it off and call us at 641-812-2028 immediately.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

An overpowering ammonia odor means there could be mold spreading within your air conditioner or ductwork. The smell isn’t the mold itself, but the mycotoxins that mold produces.

How to Repair It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your well-being. That’s why you should have a pro like Kapaun & Brown Inc. check your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when needed.

Our Specialists Can Get Rid of Strange Air Conditioner Smells Rapidly

You deserve to be comfy in your home and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you need relief from your smelly air conditioner, reach us at 641-812-2028. We’ll diagnose the issue quickly and resolve it at a fair price.