When your air conditioner starts putting out strange or gross smells, it is important to take notice because it could be a sign of a big problem. Ignoring unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioning could lead to further damage to your air conditioning or even pose a risk to your health and safety.
Depending on the smell, the cause may be bacteria or fungus in the system. In other cases, it could also indicate something mechanically wrong with the air conditioning system. Some smells are even indicative of a hazardous problem, like a natural gas leak.
At Clean Air HVAC, we have a nose for these sorts of things. If you smell something peculiar coming from your cooling system, there's a good chance our team of talented professionals has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned our reputation as the premier company for air conditioning repair in Pacheco.
What does a certain smell wafting from your air conditioning mean? Here are a few frequent air conditioner smells and what they may mean:
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet
If your air conditioner smells like feet, it may be due to a buildup of bacteria or fungus inside of it. When moisture builds inside the unit, it can produce an environment that is favorable to the spread of bacteria and fungus. This can cause a nasty odor that is often described as smelling like dirty feet.
Another potential cause of the stench of dirty feet could be a dirty air filter. When your HVAC system's air filter becomes filled with dirt, dust and other debris, it can cause substandard air quality and a musty smell that bears a resemblance to feet.
To solve this dilemma, 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 exchange the air filter routinely to ensure good air quality and protect against the development of bacteria and fungus.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs
If your air conditioning unit reeks of rotten eggs, it might be due to a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a recognizable odor, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur, which is added to it to make it easily detectable.
A natural gas leak can be extraordinarily 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, make everyone leave the building and call your gas company or emergency services immediately.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew
If your AC emits a smell like mildew, it might be due to a buildup of moisture inside the unit. When moisture accumulates inside an air conditioner, it can foster the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty stench that resembles mildew.
Another possible explanation for the smell might be a dirty air filter. Once the air filter becomes clogged, it can result in poor air quality and a musty smell that resembles mildew.
Routine air conditioning maintenance from Clean Air HVAC can help protect against both of these issues, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a terrific way to keep your system working at its best!
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine
One of the most distressing scenarios is when the air coming out of your HVAC system smells like urine.
If your air conditioning equipment reeks of urine, it could could be caused by multiple factors. One potential cause is a buildup of bacteria or mold in the your HVAC. This can happen in the event that moisture accumulates in the system and creates a wet environment that can promote bacterial growth. The bacteria can create a foul odor that some people describe as smelling like 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 effectively, but if the drain line becomes choked with debris, it can cause water to back up and build up inside the unit. This can generate a musty smell that resembles urine.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic
If your air conditioning system smells like burning plastic, it might be because of an electrical issue with the unit. After some time, the electrical components in the air conditioning system can wear out or break, which can make a burning smell that resembles plastic.
Another possible root cause of the smell could be a foreign object lodged in the HVAC system. If something foreign gets trapped in the air conditioning system, it can become hot and result in a smell that reminds people of burning plastic.
If you smell burning plastic coming from your AC unit, it’s essential to call a professional right away.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas
If your air conditioner smells like gas, it could be due to a natural gas leak in the unit or in another part of your home. Natural gas has a distinctive odor, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because this scent is put into natural gas so that it is easily detectable.
As mentioned before, a natural gas leak can be VERY dangerous and requires 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 call your gas company or emergency services straight away.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish
Should your air conditioner smell like fish, you may have a situation where there's a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture causes an environment that is conducive to the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a strong odor that can be 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 trapped in the air conditioning system. This often can happen if an animal such as a mouse or bird becomes 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 proper steps to remove any contaminants and stop the problem from recurring.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar
There could be several reasons your air conditioner smells like vinegar. One possible cause is a plugged air filter. Another possible cause of the smell could be a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can generate a chemical odor that is described as smelling of vinegar.
To fix the issue, it's essential to have a skilled tech inspect 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 identify and repair any underlying issues with your air conditioning. Or, the tech can tell you if your air conditioning ought to be replaced.
If you are planning to upgrade, Clean Air HVAC can help locate the right unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer dependable, expert air conditioner installation in Pacheco.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals
If the smell of chemicals is emitting out of your air conditioning unit, it could be the result of a refrigerant leak. If the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical aroma that some people describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.
An additional possible cause of the smell could be problems with the electrical wiring or components inside the air conditioning system. This can result in a burning smell that is like chemicals or burning plastic.
If you suspect a refrigerant leak or an electrical concern, it's important to shut off your air conditioning system right away and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be dangerous and may require immediate attention to protect against injury or damage to your home.
Strange Smell Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at Clean Air HVAC
If your air conditioner reeks and you aren’t able to fix it easily on your own, contact the cooling specialists 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 over the years—including strange smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Pacheco!