When your air conditioner starts spewing odd or gross aromas, it is a good idea to take notice because it could be a sign of a significant problem. Dismissing unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioner may lead to additional 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 sign something mechanically wrong with the AC. Some smells are a warning of an unsafe problem, including a natural gas leak.
At Interstate Heating & Air Conditioning, we are skilled at diagnosing and fixing these type of problems. If you smell something odd coming from your AC, you can bet that our team of talented pros has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned our reputation as the go-to team for air conditioning repair in Omaha.
What does a specific odor billowing coming from your air conditioning mean? Here are a few frequent air conditioner odors and what they might mean:
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet
If your air conditioner smells like feet, it could be caused by a buildup of bacteria or fungus inside of it. When moisture accumulates inside the unit, it can produce an environment that is conducive to the spread of bacteria and fungus. This can result in a foul odor that is often described as smelling like dirty feet.
Another likely cause of the smell may be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes choked with dirt, dust and other debris, it can cause substandard air quality and a musty smell that it similar to the smell of feet.
To fix this unpleasant situation, 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 on a regular basis to promote good air quality and protect against the formation of bacteria and fungus.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs
If your air conditioner stinks like rotten eggs, it may be because of a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a distinctive 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 extremely dangerous and requires immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, immediately open windows and doors to air out the area, make everyone leave the building and call your gas company or emergency services right away.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew
If your cooling system is giving off an odor 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 odor that it similar to mildew.
Another possible cause of the smell might be a soiled air filter. Once the air filter becomes clogged, it can result in poor air quality and a musty smell that has a resemblance to mildew.
Annual air conditioning maintenance from Interstate Heating & Air Conditioning can help prevent both of these situations, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a great way to keep your system operating at its best!
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine
One of the most distressing situations is when an air conditioner smells like urine.
If your air conditioning equipment reeks of urine, it could be traced back to a number of things. One possible cause is a collection of bacteria or mold in the your cooling system. This can happen when moisture accumulates in the system and creates a wet environment that favorable for bacterial growth. The bacteria can create a foul odor that is like urine.
Another feasible cause of the smell could be a blocked 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 accumulate inside the unit. This can produce a musty smell that is sometimes described as smelling of urine.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic
If your air conditioner smells like burning plastic, it might be because of an electrical concern with the unit. Over time, the electrical elements in the air conditioning system can wear out or malfunction, which can produce a burning smell that resembles plastic.
Another possible cause of the smell could be a foreign object that somehow got in the HVAC system. If something foreign gets trapped in the air conditioning system, it can heat up and cause a smell similar to burning plastic.
If you think you smell burning plastic coming from your cooling system, it’s essential to call a professional right away.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas
If your AC smells like gas, 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 similar to rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because this scent is incorporated into natural gas to make sure that it is easily detectable.
As stated earlier, a natural gas leak can be VERY dangerous and calls for immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, open windows and doors to air out the home, evacuate the building and contact your gas company or emergency services right away.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish
Should your air conditioning equipment smell like fish, it could be due to 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 foul odor that is sometimes described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can result in a smell like dirty feet.
Another potential cause of the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material stuck in the air conditioning system. This often can take place if an animal such as a mouse or bird gets trapped inside the unit and dies.
To correct the issue, it's worthwhile to have a professional examine and clean your air conditioning system. They should be able to identify the source of the smell and take the correct steps to remove any contaminants and keep the problem from recurring.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar
There could be several reasons your AC smells like vinegar. One possible cause might be a clogged air filter. One other possible cause of the smell may be a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that resembles vinegar.
To fix the issue, it's important to have a skilled specialist inspect and clean your air conditioning. If the odor persists after the cleaning and replacing of the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to identify and repair any hidden issues with your air conditioning. Or, the mechanic can tell you if your air conditioning ought to be replaced.
If you are planning to upgrade, Interstate Heating & Air Conditioning can help locate the ideal unit to fit your home’s needs. We deliver trustworthy, professional air conditioner installation in Omaha.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals
If the smell of chemicals is emitting out of your air conditioning equipment, it could be caused by a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical scent that people sometimes describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.
One other possible source of the smell could be problems with the electrical wiring or elements inside the air conditioning system. This can cause a burning smell that resembles chemicals or burning plastic.
If you believe there is 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 dangerous and may require immediate attention to prevent injury or damage to your house.
Strange Smell Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at Interstate Heating & Air Conditioning
If your air conditioner smells nasty and you aren’t able to fix it simply on your own, contact the cooling specialists at Interstate Heating & Air Conditioning. We have plenty of experience working with a wide variety of air conditioning systems. Our crew has fixed many air conditioning troubles throughout the years—including strange smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Omaha!