6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Explained and How to Solve the Problem

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is clean and operating correctly, it’s not normal to be smelling anything weird. Out of the ordinary air conditioner noises and strange smells are a clue that something is off. If your air conditioner is old or you haven’t had maintenance done recently, they can be a clear sign you need professional air conditioning repair in Rochester.

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 scent, isn’t a good sign. You might also notice your:

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

These sweet, chemical scents are often a hint that your air conditioner is suffering from a refrigerant leak. Your system uses this gas to shift heat through copper coils, which can wear out as time passes.

4 Hints You Have a Refrigerant Leak

Aside from the odd smell, here are four other clues that you are dealing with a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner is operating.
  2. Frost on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. It’s hard keeping your home comfortable or achieving your programmed temperature.
  4. Increasing electrical expenses.

How You Can Fix It

A refrigerant leak needs skilled assistance from a heating and cooling company like Brogan Heating & AC Inc. Your cooling specialist will pinpoint and fix the leak before recharging your air conditioner with refrigerant.

Fixing a refrigerant leak typically costs between $225 and $1,600, per nationwide averages put together by HomeAdvisor. Your precise cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how many hours it requires to fix.

If your air conditioner was installed early than 2010, there’s a high probability it has R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being produced as a result of its negative effects on the ozone layer. Due to this, repairs can be very expensive so it may be smartest to schedule air conditioning installation in this instance.

2. Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, there’s possibly nothing wrong with it. But there’s a significant chance you have a natural gas leak in your residence. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to alert you when there’s a leak, because the gas can be deadly in heavy concentrations.

How You Can Repair It

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

  • Switching off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Evacuating your home promptly.
  • Contacting your gas company now.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Individuals who contact us to report this problem usually report their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it’s running. Also known as dirty sock syndrome, this smell is frequently caused by a grubby 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 locations where you turn on heating at night and during the morning before switching to cooling later in the day.

How to Solve It

The best way to prevent dirty sock syndrome is to routinely replace your air filter and schedule annual air conditioning maintenance with Brogan Heating & AC Inc. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unblocked, since excess water can also lead to nasty odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are experiencing air conditioner mildew smell or a strong, vinegar-like odor, it can be caused by several issues, including:

  • A filthy filter
  • Excess condensation
  • Clogged condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Resolve It

Examine your filter first. If you haven’t replaced it within the last three months and can’t see light through it, you should replace it. If that doesn’t fix the issue, contact Brogan Heating & AC Inc at 507-218-0088.

5. Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If you’re dealing with 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 needs lubrication.
  • Broken fan belt.
  • Electrical issue.

Electrical issues should be checked right away to avoid a fire. If you notice burning plastic when your air conditioner is operating, switch it off and contact us at 507-218-0088 right away.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

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

How to Repair It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your wellness. That’s why it’s important to have a pro like Brogan Heating & AC Inc look at your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when necessary.

Our Professionals Can Eliminate Unpleasant Air Conditioner Smells Rapidly

You deserve to be comfy in your home and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are seeking relief from your noxious air conditioner, give us a call at 507-218-0088. We’ll diagnose the trouble quickly and resolve it at a reasonable.