6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Answered and How to Fix the Issue

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is spotless and operating properly, it’s not normal to be smelling anything weird. Peculiar air conditioner noises and odd smells are a clue that something is out of whack. If your air conditioner is old or you haven’t had a tune-up scheduled recently, they can be a clear sign you need professional air conditioning repair in Thedford.

Here are six of the top air conditioner smells and how you can solve them.

1. Central Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If your air conditioner smells bad when turned on, specifically a chemical smell, isn’t a good sign. You may also notice your:

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

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

4 Clues You Are Experiencing a Refrigerant Leak

Besides the weird smell, here are four other clues that you are experiencing a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner is operating.
  2. Ice crystals on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. It’s hard keeping your home comfortable or achieving your programmed temperature.
  4. High energy costs.

How You Can Repair It

A refrigerant leak calls for experienced support from a heating and cooling company like Taylor's Heating & Air Conditioning. Your cooling specialist will locate and mend the leak before recharging your AC with refrigerant.

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

If your air conditioner was installed prior to 2010, there’s a high probability it uses R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being made because of its damaging effects on the ozone layer. As a result, repairs can be very expensive so it may be smartest to consider air conditioning installation in this situation.

2. Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, there’s probably nothing wrong with it. But there’s a high chance you have a natural gas leak in your house. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to signal you when there’s a leak, because the gas can be toxic in heavy concentrations.

How You Can Solve It

If you notice a sulfur or rotten egg odor, we recommend:

  • Switching off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Going outside promptly.
  • Contacting your gas company without delay.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Individuals who reach us regarding this issue often report their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it’s on. Also called dirty sock syndrome, this smell is usually linked to 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 often seen in locations where you use heating at night and during the morning before transitioning to cooling during the afternoon.

How to Solve It

The best approach for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to regularly change your air filter and schedule yearly air conditioning maintenance with Taylor's Heating & Air Conditioning. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unclogged, because standing water can also produce unpleasant odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are living with air conditioner mildew smell or an acidic, vinegar-like odor, it could be the result of several problems, such as:

  • A clogged filter
  • Excess condensation
  • Plugged condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Repair It

Examine your filter first. If you haven’t put in a new one within the last three months and can’t see light through it, you should replace it. If that doesn’t solve the issue, reach Taylor's Heating & Air Conditioning at 519-296-4437.

5. Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

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

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

Electrical problems should be examined right away to stop a fire. If you notice burning plastic when your air conditioner is on, turn it off and reach us at 519-296-4437 immediately.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

An overpowering ammonia odor means there may be mold present within 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 wellness. That’s why you should have a professional like Taylor's Heating & Air Conditioning look at your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when needed.

Our Specialists Can Take Care of Unpleasant Air Conditioner Smells Fast

You deserve to be comfortable in your residence and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you need relief from your stinky air conditioner, give us a call at 519-296-4437. We’ll determine the issue quickly and fix it at a reasonable.