When your air conditioner starts spewing weird or unappealing odors, it is important to take notice because it could be a sign of a significant problem. Ignoring unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioning may lead to further damage to your AC or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on the cause of the odor, the cause may be bacteria or fungus in the system. On the other hand, it could also indicate something mechanically wrong with the AC. Some smells are a warning of an unsafe scenario, like a natural gas leak.

At Interstate Heating & Air Conditioning, we are skilled at diagnosing and fixing these type of problems. If you smell something peculiar coming from your air conditioner, there's a good chance our team of qualified specialists has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned the reputation as the premier company for air conditioning repair in Omaha.

What does a specific odor wafting from your air conditioning mean? Here are some common air conditioner odors and what they might mean:

Your AC Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it might be because of a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the unit. When moisture builds inside the unit, it can produce an environment that is beneficial to the growth of bacteria and fungus. This can produce a bad odor that is often described as smelling like feet.

Another potential reason for an odor of stinky feet could be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes clogged with dirt, dust and other debris, it can result in poor air quality and a musty smell that it similar to the smell of feet.

To solve this problem, it's important to have a professional 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 promote good air quality and restrict the growth of bacteria and fungus.

Your AC Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your smells like rotten eggs, it might be because of 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 is a situation that is 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 at once.

Your AC Smells Like Mildew

If your AC smells like mildew, it might be due to a collection of moisture inside the unit. When moisture forms inside the air conditioning system, it can foster the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty stench that it similar to mildew.

Another possible explanation for the smell might be a clogged air filter. When the air filter becomes clogged, it can result in poor air quality and a musty smell that resembles mildew.

Routine air conditioning maintenance from Interstate Heating & Air Conditioning can help protect against both of these situations, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a terrific way to keep your system running at its best!

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Urine

One of the most undesirable things is when your AC smells like urine.

If your air conditioner stinks like urine, it could could be caused by multiple factors. One likely cause is a accumulation of bacteria or mold in the your HVAC. This can happen when moisture accumulates in the system and creates a moist environment that can promote bacterial growth. The bacteria can produce a foul odor that resembles urine.

Another possible cause of the stink could be a blocked drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away correctly, but if the drain line becomes stopped up by debris, it can cause water to back up and accumulate inside the unit. This can create a musty smell that is sometimes described as smelling of urine.

Your AC Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your air conditioning system smells like burning plastic, it might be because of an electrical concern with the unit. After some time, the electrical components in the air conditioning system can wear out or break, which can produce a burning smell that resembles plastic.

Another possible reason for the smell could be a foreign object stuck in the HVAC system. If something foreign gets stuck in the air conditioning system, it can get hot and emit a smell similar to burning plastic.

If you think you smell burning plastic coming from your cooling system, it’s important to contact a professional right away.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Gas

If your AC smells like gas, there could be a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a distinct odor, often described as smelling of rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because a smell is put into natural gas to make sure that it is easily detectable.

As stated previously, 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.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Fish

If your air conditioning equipment smell like fish, it could be due to a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture produces an environment that promotes the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a disgusting odor that can be described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can cause a smell like dirty feet.

Another potential cause of the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material caught inside 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 solve the issue, it's often necessary to have a professional inspect and clean your HVAC system. They should be able to determine the source of the smell and take the appropriate steps to remove any contaminants and keep the problem from recurring.

Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

There could be several reasons a home's AC smells like vinegar. One possible cause is a clogged air filter. One other likely 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 essential to have a skilled mechanic look at and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor persists after the cleaning and exchanging the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to find and repair any hidden issues with your air conditioning. Or, the tech can tell you if your air conditioning ought to be replaced.

If you are looking to upgrade, Interstate Heating & Air Conditioning can help select the right unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer dependable, expert air conditioner installation in Omaha.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is emitting out of your air conditioning unit, it could be caused by a refrigerant leak. If the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that some people describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.

An additional possible source of the smell could be a problem with the electrical wiring or hardware inside the air conditioning system. This can result in a burning smell that resembles chemicals or burning plastic.

If you think your system has a refrigerant leak or an electrical concern, it's important to shut down your air conditioning system right away and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be harmful and may require immediate attention to prevent injury or damage to your home.

A Nasty Odor Coming from Your Cooling? Call the Pros at Interstate Heating & Air Conditioning

If your air conditioner reeks and you aren’t able to fix it simply on your own, call the cooling professionals at Interstate Heating & Air Conditioning. We have years of experience working with a wide variety of HVAC systems. Our crew has fixed a multitude of air conditioning troubles through the years—including strange smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Omaha!