When your air conditioner starts putting out unusual or funky smells, it is important to take notice because it could be a sign of a big problem. Dismissing unpleasant smells coming from your cooling system 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 root of the problem might be bacteria or fungus in the system. In other cases, it could also indicate something mechanically wrong with the air conditioning system. Some smells are even indicative of a harmful problem, like a natural gas leak.
At Air Current AC & Heat, we are skilled at diagnosing and fixing these type of problems. If you smell something odd coming from your AC, chances are our team of talented professionals has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned a reputation as the go-to team for air conditioning repair in Houston.
What does a particular smell wafting out of your cooling system mean? Here are some typical air conditioner smells and what they may mean:
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet
If your air conditioner smells like feet, it may be because of a buildup of bacteria or fungus inside of it. When moisture collects inside the unit, it can create an environment that is favorable to the development of bacteria and fungus. This can cause a nasty odor that is often described as smelling like dirty feet.
Another potential reason for the smell may be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes choked with dirt, dust and other contaminants, it can cause poor air quality and a musty smell that bears a resemblance to feet.
To solve this unpleasant situation, it's important to have an experienced specialist 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 on a regular basis to ensure good air quality and protect against the development of bacteria and fungus.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs
If your air conditioner 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, that is added to it to make it easily detectable.
A natural gas leak can be very dangerous and requires immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, immediately open windows and doors to allow gas to escape 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 emits a smell like mildew, it could be due to a collection of moisture inside the unit. When moisture collects inside an air conditioner, it can foster the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty stench that bears a resemblance to mildew.
Another possible explanation for the smell may be a soiled air filter. When the air filter becomes clogged, it can cause poor air quality and a musty smell that has a resemblance to mildew.
Regular air conditioning maintenance from Air Current AC & Heat can help protect against both of these problems, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a terrific way to keep your system running at its best!
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine
One of the most unpleasant things is when your AC smells like urine.
If your air conditioning reeks of urine, it could be traced back to a number of things. One possible cause is a buildup of bacteria or mold in the air conditioning system. This can happen in the event that moisture accumulates in the system and creates a moist environment that favorable for bacterial growth. The bacteria can create a foul odor that is like urine.
Another possible cause of the smell could be a clogged drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away effectively, but if the drain line becomes clogged 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 conditioner smells like burning plastic, this could indicate an electrical problem with the unit. After a while, the electrical parts in the air conditioning system can wear out or break, which can make a burning smell that resembles plastic.
Another possible reason for the smell could be a foreign object stuck in the unit. If something foreign gets stuck in the air conditioning system, it can get hot and result in a smell like burning plastic.
If you think you smell burning plastic coming from your AC unit, 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 due to 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 this scent is incorporated into natural gas to make it easily detectable.
As stated earlier, a natural gas leak can be VERY hazardous and needs immediate attention. Should 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
If your air conditioning equipment 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 disgusting odor that is sometimes described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can cause a smell like dirty feet.
Another possible cause of 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 is trapped inside the unit and dies.
To correct the issue, it's worthwhile to have a professional examine and clean your cooling system. They should be able to find 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 several reasons an AC smells like vinegar. One possible cause might be a dirty air filter. Another potential cause of the smell might be a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that is similar to vinegar.
To fix the issue, it's beneficial to have a skilled mechanic examine and clean your air conditioning. If the odor lingers after the cleaning and changing of the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to diagnose and repair any underlying issues with your air conditioning. Or, the tech can tell you if your air conditioning should be replaced.
If you are wanting to upgrade, Air Current AC & Heat can help find the right unit to fit your home’s needs. We provide dependable, professional air conditioner installation in Houston.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals
If the smell of chemicals is emitting out of your air conditioning unit, it could be due to a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that people sometimes describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.
One other possible cause of the smell could be something wrong 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 suspect a refrigerant leak or an electrical concern, it's important to shut down 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 avoid injury or damage to your residence.
Strange Smell Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at Air Current AC & Heat
If your air conditioner smells nasty and you aren’t able to fix it easily on your own, reach out to the cooling experts at Air Current AC & Heat. We have lots of experience working with a wide variety of air conditioning systems. Our crew has fixed countless air conditioning troubles throughout the years—including weird smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Houston!