6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Explained and How to Repair the Issue

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is spotless and working correctly, you shouldn’t be smelling anything strange. Peculiar air conditioner noises and strange smells are a clue that something is off. If your air conditioner is old or you haven’t had service done recently, they can be a clear sign you need professional air conditioning repair in South Beloit and Belvidere.

Here are six of the most frequent air conditioner smells and how you can fix them.

1. Central Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

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

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

These sweet, chemical odors are frequently a sign that your air conditioner is suffering from a refrigerant leak. Your system relies on this gas to shift heat through copper coils, which can break out as time passes.

4 Hints You Are Dealing with a Refrigerant Leak

Besides the odd smell, here are four other hints that you are dealing with a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner is on.
  2. Ice crystals on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. Difficulty keeping your residence cool or having your set temperature.
  4. Increasing utility bills.

How You Can Take Care of It

A refrigerant leak calls for skilled assistance from a heating and cooling company like Fleming Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. Your cooling pro will locate and repair the leak before recharging your air conditioner with refrigerant.

Fixing a refrigerant leak often costs between $225 and $1,600, according to nationwide averages compiled by HomeAdvisor. Your precise cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how many hours it takes to fix.

If your air conditioner was installed before 2010, it’s likely it has R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being manufactured because of its damaging effects on the ozone layer. Consequently, repairs can be very expensive so it may be best to do air conditioning installation in this situation.

2. Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, there’s likely nothing wrong with it. But there’s a significant probability 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 deadly in large amounts.

How You Can Repair It

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

  • Shutting off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Going outside right away.
  • Contacting your gas company immediately.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Homeowners who contact us to report this situation often say their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it’s on. Also called dirty sock syndrome, this smell is typically created by a dirty 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 areas where you need heating at night and during the morning before transitioning to cooling later on.

How to Repair It

The best method for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to regularly change your air filter and schedule annual air conditioning maintenance with Fleming Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unblocked, since standing water can also produce unpleasant odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are experiencing air conditioner mildew smell or an acidic, vinegar-like odor, it could be caused by several problems, such as:

  • A filthy filter
  • Too much condensation
  • Plugged condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Solve It

Examine 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, call Fleming Heating & Air Conditioning Inc at 877-389-2465.

5. Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

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

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

Electrical issues should be inspected right away to stop a fire. If you notice burning plastic when your air conditioner is running, turn it off and contact us at 877-389-2465 without delay.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

An overpowering ammonia odor means there may be mold present in your air conditioner or ductwork. The smell isn’t the mold itself, but the mycotoxins that mold creates.

How to Fix It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your well-being. That’s why it’s important to have a specialist like Fleming Heating & Air Conditioning Inc examine your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when needed.

Our Pros Can Take Care of Odd Air Conditioner Smells Fast

You deserve to be comfortable in your residence and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are looking for relief from your noxious air conditioner, give us a call at 877-389-2465. We’ll figure out the issue quickly and resolve it at a fair price.