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

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is spotless and running correctly, it’s expected you won’t be smelling anything strange. Unusual air conditioner noises and strange smells are a hint that something is out of whack. If your air conditioner is aging or you haven’t had maintenance completed recently, they can be a sure sign you need professional air conditioning repair in Stuart.

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

1. Central Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

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

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

These sweet, chemical smells are regularly a sign that your air conditioner is experiencing a refrigerant leak. Your system relies on this gas to shift heat through copper coils, which can break out over time.

4 Hints You Are Experiencing a Refrigerant Leak

Aside from the odd 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 on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. It’s hard keeping your house cold or achieving your programmed temperature.
  4. Increasing utility bills.

How You Can Take Care of It

A refrigerant leak requires professional assistance from a heating and cooling company like Breathe Healthier Air. Your cooling specialist will pinpoint and mend the leak before recharging your air conditioner with refrigerant.

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

If your air conditioner was installed before 2010, there’s a high probability it uses R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being manufactured due to its negative effects on the ozone layer. Consequently, repairs can be very expensive so it may be best 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 house. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to warn you when there’s a leak, as the gas can be toxic in large amounts.

How You Can Repair It

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

  • Turning off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Leaving your home promptly.
  • Call your gas company without delay.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

People who call us to report this situation usually say their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it’s on. Also called dirty sock syndrome, this smell is frequently caused by a filthy evaporator coil that has mold, mildew and bacteria buildup. Moisture can also make your home air conditioner smell bad. Dirty sock syndrome is most often seen in locations where you need heating at night and during the morning before turning on cooling during the afternoon.

How to Solve It

The best way to prevent dirty sock syndrome is to regularly change your air filter and schedule routine air conditioning maintenance with Breathe Healthier Air. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unclogged, as standing water can also lead to nasty odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are dealing with air conditioner mildew smell or a pungent, vinegar-like odor, it could be the result of several situations, like:

  • A clogged filter
  • Extra condensation
  • Blocked condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Repair It

Inspect your filter first. If you haven’t replaced it within the last three months and can’t see light through it, we recommend replacing it. If that doesn’t fix the problem, reach Breathe Healthier Air at 772-353-4633.

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 couple of things wrong. These entail:

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

Electrical problems should be checked quickly to avoid a fire. If you smell burning plastic when your air conditioner is running, turn it off and contact us at 772-353-4633 immediately.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

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

How to Solve It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your health. That’s why you should have a professional like Breathe Healthier Air look at your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when necessary.

Our Specialists Can Get Rid of Weird Air Conditioner Smells Quickly

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 772-353-4633. We’ll figure out the issue quickly and take care of it at a competitive.