When your air conditioner starts putting out strange or unappealing odors, it is important to take notice because it could be a sign of a significant problem. Disregarding unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioner could lead to further damage to your HVAC system or even pose a risk to your health and safety.
Depending on the smell, the cause could be bacteria or fungus in the system. On the other hand, it could also signal something mechanically wrong with the AC. Some smells are even indicative of an unsafe problem, including a natural gas leak.
At Kapaun & Brown, we are experienced at getting to the root cause of stinky smells. If you smell something odd coming from your air conditioner, you can bet that our team of talented pros has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned the reputation as the go-to team for air conditioning repair in Marshalltown.
What does a particular smell coming from your cooling system mean? Here are several typical air conditioner odors and what they could mean:
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet
If your air conditioner smells like feet, it might be caused by a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the system. When moisture collects inside the unit, it can create an environment that is favorable to the spread of bacteria and fungus. This can result in a bad odor that is often described as smelling like feet.
Another possible reason for the stench of dirty feet could be a dirty air filter. When the air filter becomes filled with dirt, dust and other contaminants, it can lead to low air quality and a musty smell that resembles feet.
To solve this problem, 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 change the air filter regularly to provide good air quality and restrict the formation of bacteria and fungus.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs
If your air conditioning unit smells 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 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, evacuate the building and call your gas company or emergency services right away.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew
If your cooling system smells like mildew, it might be due to a collection of moisture inside the unit. When moisture accumulates inside an air conditioner, it can cultivate the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty odor that bears a resemblance to mildew.
Another possible cause of the smell might be a soiled air filter. When the air filter becomes clogged, it can lead to poor air quality and a musty smell that is similar to mildew.
Regular air conditioning maintenance from Kapaun & Brown can help protect against both of these situations, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a very good way to keep your system operating at its best!
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine
One of the most undesirable situations is when your AC smells like urine.
If your air conditioning stinks like urine, it could be due to a variety of factors. One possible cause is a buildup of bacteria or mold in the your HVAC. 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 resembles urine.
Another potential cause of the stink could be a clogged drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away correctly, 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 resembles urine.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic
If your air conditioning system smells like burning plastic, this could indicate an electrical issue with the unit. After some time, the electrical components 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 lodged in the the air conditioner. If something foreign gets stuck in the air conditioning system, it can become hot and cause a smell that reminds people of burning plastic.
If you notice something that smells like burning plastic coming from your air conditioner, it’s important to call a professional right away.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas
If your AC smells like gas, it could be because of a natural gas leak in the unit or in your home. Natural gas has a recognizable aroma, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because an odor is added to natural gas to make sure that it is easily detectable.
As stated before, 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, leave the building and contact 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 causes an environment that fosters the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a strong odor that can be 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 stuck in the air conditioning system. This often is possible if an animal such as a mouse or bird is trapped inside the unit and dies.
To correct the issue, it's often necessary to have a professional inspect and clean your air conditioning 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 a home's AC smells like vinegar. One possible cause of the smell could be a dirty air filter. One other possible cause of the smell may be a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can generate a chemical odor that resembles vinegar.
To fix the issue, it's important to have a skilled specialist look at and clean your air conditioning. If the odor continues after the cleaning and replacing of the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to identify 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 looking to upgrade, Kapaun & Brown can help select the correct unit to fit your home’s needs. We provide dependable, skilled air conditioner installation in Marshalltown.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals
If the smell of chemicals is coming from your air conditioning unit, it could be due to a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical aroma that is often described as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.
Another possible reason for the smell could be an issue with the electrical wiring or components 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 problem, it's important to shut off your air conditioning system as soon as possible and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be hazardous and may require immediate attention to prevent injury or damage to your house.
Strange Smell Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at Kapaun & Brown
If your air conditioner reeks and you aren’t able to fix it quickly on your own, reach out to the cooling experts at Kapaun & Brown. We have years of experience working with a wide variety of cooling systems. Our crew has fixed a multitude of air conditioning concerns over the years—including funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Marshalltown!