When your air conditioner starts emitting weird or unappealing smells, it is a good idea to take notice because it could be a sign of a major problem. Disregarding unpleasant smells coming from your cooling system could lead to additional damage to your air conditioning or even pose a risk to your health and safety.
Depending on the smell, the culprit could be bacteria or fungus in the system. On the other hand, it could also indicate something mechanically wrong with the air conditioning system. Some smells are a sign of a hazardous problem, including a natural gas leak.
At Air-Right Energy Design, we have a nose for these sorts of things. If you smell something weird coming from your AC, there's a good chance our team of qualified professionals has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned a reputation as the go-to team for air conditioning repair in Manassas.
What does a particular smell wafting from your cooling system mean? Here are some frequent air conditioner aromas and what they could mean:
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet
If your air conditioner smells like feet, it can be due to a buildup of bacteria or fungus inside of it. When moisture collects inside the unit, it can produce an environment that is favorable to the growth of bacteria and fungus. This can result in a nasty odor that is often described as smelling like feet.
Another likely explanation for the stench of dirty feet may be a dirty air filter. When your HVAC system's air filter becomes filled 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 correct this problem, it's important to have an experienced specialist inspect and clean your air conditioning system, including the evaporator coil, drain pan and condensate drain line. It's also important to replace the air filter regularly to ensure good air quality and restrict the formation of bacteria and fungus.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs
If your smells like rotten eggs, it may 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 because of a substance added to it to make it easily detectable.
A natural gas leak can be very 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 right away.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew
If your cooling system smells like mildew, it may 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 odor that it similar to mildew.
Another possible explanation for the smell could be a dirty air filter. Once the air filter becomes clogged, it can cause poor air quality and a musty smell that has a resemblance to mildew.
Routine air conditioning maintenance from Air-Right Energy Design can help prevent both of these issues, 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 things 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 potential cause is a buildup of bacteria or mold in the your cooling system. This can happen in the event that moisture accumulates in the system and creates a moist environment that can promote bacterial growth. The bacteria can emit a foul odor that some people describe as smelling like urine.
Another possible cause of the stink could be a clogged drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away correctly, but if the drain line becomes clogged with debris, it can cause water to back up and build up inside the unit. This can create a musty smell that is sometimes described as smelling of urine.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic
If your air conditioning system smells like burning plastic, a possible cause could be an electrical concern with the unit. Over time, the electrical components in the air conditioning system can wear out or bust, which can make a burning smell that resembles plastic.
Another possible reason for the smell could be a foreign object that somehow got in the the air conditioner. If something foreign gets caught in the air conditioning system, it can become hot and cause a smell that reminds people of burning plastic.
If you think you smell burning plastic coming from your air conditioner, it’s essential to call a professional right away.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas
If your air conditioning smells like gas, it could 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 similar to rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because this scent is incorporated into natural gas so that it is easily detectable.
As we said earlier, a natural gas leak can be VERY hazardous and requires immediate attention. When 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 AC smell like fish, this could be a sign of a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture creates an environment that promotes the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a strong odor that is sometimes described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can cause a smell like dirty feet.
Another plausible explanation for the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material stuck in the air conditioning system. This often can happen if an animal such as a mouse or bird gets trapped inside the unit and dies.
To solve the issue, it's often necessary to have a professional inspect and clean your air conditioning system. They can determine the source of the smell and take the proper steps to remove any contaminants and keep the problem from recurring.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar
There could be several reasons your air conditioning system smells like vinegar. One possible cause is a clogged air filter. A second potential cause of the smell may be a refrigerant leak. If the refrigerant leaks, it can make a chemical odor that is similar to vinegar.
To fix the issue, it's beneficial to have a skilled mechanic inspect and clean your air conditioning. If the odor lingers after the cleaning and replacing of the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to identify and repair any persistent issues with your air conditioning. Or, they can tell you if your air conditioning ought to be replaced.
If you are looking to upgrade, Air-Right Energy Design can help find the right unit to fit your home’s needs. We deliver dependable, skilled air conditioner installation in Manassas.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals
If the smell of chemicals is coming out of your air conditioner, it could be the result of a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical aroma that people sometimes describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.
One other possible cause of the smell could be problems with the electrical wiring or hardware inside the air conditioning system. This can produce a burning smell that is like chemicals or burning plastic.
If you think your system has a refrigerant leak or an electrical problem, it's important to turn 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 avoid injury or damage to your home.
Strange Smell Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at Air-Right Energy Design
If your air conditioner reeks and you aren’t able to fix it smoothly on your own, reach out to the cooling specialists at Air-Right Energy Design. We have years of experience working with a wide variety of cooling systems. Our crew has fixed countless air conditioning problems throughout the years—including strange smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Manassas!