6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Explained and How to Solve Them

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is spotless and operating right, it’s expected you won’t be smelling anything strange. Unexpected air conditioner noises and odd smells are a clue that something is up. If your air conditioner is old or you haven’t had maintenance completed recently, they can be a clear sign you need professional air conditioning repair in Heflin.

Here are six of the most common air conditioner smells and how you can solve them.

1. Central Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

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

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

These sweet, chemical smells are often a hint that your air conditioner is experiencing a refrigerant leak. Your system relies on this gas to shift heat through copper coils, which can wear out as time goes on.

4 Clues You Are Experiencing a Refrigerant Leak

Aside from the weird smell, here are four other hints that you are experiencing a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner is on.
  2. Ice on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. Trouble keeping your house cool or having your desired temperature.
  4. Increasing electrical costs.

How You Can Take Care of It

A refrigerant leak needs experienced support from a heating and cooling company like Bain Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. Your cooling technician will locate and repair the leak before recharging your air conditioner with refrigerant.

Resolving a refrigerant leak often costs between $225 and $1,600, based on nationwide averages assembled by HomeAdvisor. Your precise cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how long it requires to repair.

If your air conditioner was installed prior to 2010, it’s likely it has R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being manufactured as a result of its damaging effects on the ozone layer. As a consequence, repairs can be significantly expensive so it may be best to consider air conditioning installation in this circumstance.

2. Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, there’s possibly nothing wrong with it. But there’s a high chance you have a natural gas leak in your home. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to warn you when there’s a leak, since the gas can be fatal in heavy concentrations.

How You Can Solve It

If you smell a sulfur or rotten egg odor, we suggest:

  • Switching off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Leaving your home as soon as possible.
  • Getting in touch with your gas company without delay.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Homeowners who call us about this problem usually report their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it’s on. Also referred to as dirty sock syndrome, this smell is often caused by a grubby evaporator coil that has mold, mildew and bacteria buildup. Excess water can also make your home air conditioner smell bad. Dirty sock syndrome is most common in climates where you use heating at night and during the morning before transitioning to cooling during the afternoon.

How to Fix It

The best way to prevent dirty sock syndrome is to routinely get a new air filter and schedule regular air conditioning maintenance with Bain Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unblocked, since stagnant water can also result in unpleasant odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are dealing with air conditioner mildew smell or an acidic, vinegar-like odor, it might be prompted by several issues, including:

  • A clogged filter
  • Excess condensation
  • Plugged condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Repair It

Check your filter first. If you haven’t replaced it within the last three months and can’t see light through it, it’s time to replace it. If that doesn’t fix the issue, contact Bain Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc at 256-270-1196.

5. Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If you’re dealing with an air conditioner burning smell or that your air conditioner smells like fish, there could be a number of things wrong. These entail:

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

Electrical malfunctions should be inspected quickly to avoid a fire. If you detect burning plastic when your air conditioner is running, switch it off and contact us at 256-270-1196 immediately.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

A strong ammonia odor means there might be mold spreading inside your air conditioner or ductwork. The smell isn’t the mold itself, but the mycotoxins that mold makes.

How to Repair It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your well-being. That’s why we recommend having a professional like Bain Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc examine your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when recommended.

Our Pros Can Take Care of Unpleasant Air Conditioner Smells Rapidly

You deserve to be cozy in your home and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are looking for relief from your stinky air conditioner, contact us at 256-270-1196. We’ll figure out the trouble quickly and resolve it at a reasonable.