When your air conditioner starts spewing weird or unappealing odors, it is important to take notice because it could be a sign of a big problem. Disregarding unpleasant smells coming from your cooling system may lead to additional damage to your HVAC system or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on what you’re smelling, the cause may be bacteria or fungus in the system. In other cases, it could also signal something mechanically wrong with the AC. Some smells are a sign of a hazardous situation, such as a natural gas leak.

At Clean Air HVAC, we have a nose for these sorts of things. If you smell something weird coming from your cooling system, there’s a good chance our team of qualified specialists has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned the reputation as the first call for air conditioning repair in Pacheco.

What does a certain smell coming coming from your air conditioning mean? Here are several common air conditioner smells and what they could mean:

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it could be due to a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the unit. When moisture builds 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 possible cause of an odor of stinky feet may be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes clogged with dirt, dust and other particles, it can lead to low air quality and a musty smell that it similar to the smell of feet.

To fix this dilemma, 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 exchange the air filter on a regular basis to ensure good air quality and restrict the growth of bacteria and fungus.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioning unit smells like rotten eggs, it might be caused by a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a unique 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 extremely 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, evacuate the building and call your gas company or emergency services at once.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew

If your AC smells like mildew, it may be due to a buildup of moisture inside the unit. When moisture forms inside an air conditioner, it can foster the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty smell that resembles mildew.

Another possible explanation for the smell could be a dirty air filter. If the air filter becomes clogged, it can result in poor air quality and a musty smell that has a resemblance to mildew.

Regular air conditioning maintenance from Clean Air HVAC can help prevent both of these issues, 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 an air conditioner smells like urine.

If your air conditioning equipment stinks like urine, it could be due to a variety of factors. One potential cause is a collection of bacteria or mold in the your cooling system. This can happen if moisture accumulates in the system and creates a wet environment that favorable for bacterial growth. The bacteria can emit a foul odor that some people describe as smelling like urine.

Another possible cause of the smell could be a blocked drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away effectively, but if the drain line becomes filled with debris, it can cause water to back up and accumulate inside the unit. This can generate a musty smell that resembles urine.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your air conditioner smells like burning plastic, it might be because of an electrical problem with the unit. After a while, the electrical parts in the air conditioning system can wear out or break, which can create 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 caught in the air conditioning system, it can get hot and cause a smell similar to burning plastic.

If you think you smell burning plastic coming from your air conditioner, it’s worthwhile to phone a professional right away.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

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

As mentioned before, a natural gas leak can be VERY hazardous and calls for immediate attention. Should you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, open windows and doors to air out the home, evacuate the building and call your gas company or emergency services right away.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish

Should your air conditioning equipment smell like fish, this could be a sign of a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture causes an environment that fosters the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a strong odor that is often 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 becomes trapped inside the unit and dies.

To solve the issue, it’s worthwhile to have a professional examine and clean your cooling system. They can find the source of the smell and take the appropriate steps to remove any contaminants and prevent the problem from recurring.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

There could be numerous reasons an air conditioner smells like vinegar. One possible cause of the smell could be a plugged air filter. A second likely cause of the smell may be a refrigerant leak. Sometimes after the refrigerant leaks, it can generate a chemical odor that is similar to vinegar.

To fix the issue, it’s important 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 find and repair any hidden issues with your air conditioning. Or, they can tell you if your air conditioning needs to be replaced.

If you are planning to upgrade, Clean Air HVAC can help select the right unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer reliable, professional air conditioner installation in Pacheco.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

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

An additional possible reason for the smell could be something wrong with the electrical wiring or hardware inside the air conditioning system. This can cause a burning smell that is like chemicals or burning plastic.

If you think your system has a refrigerant leak or an electrical concern, it’s important to shut off your air conditioning system immediately 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 residence.

A Nasty Odor Coming from the Air Conditioning? Call the Pros at Clean Air HVAC

If your air conditioner stinks and you aren’t able to fix it easily on your own, call the cooling professionals at Clean Air HVAC. We have years of experience working with a wide variety of AC systems. Our crew has fixed countless air conditioning problems through the years—including funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Pacheco!