6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Explained and How to Repair Them

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is spotless and working right, it’s expected you won’t be smelling anything weird. Out of the ordinary air conditioner noises and strange smells are a clue that something is out of whack. If your air conditioner is past its prime or you haven’t had service scheduled recently, they can be a clear sign you need pro air conditioning repair in Marshfield.

Here are six of the most frequent air conditioner smells and how you can repair them.

1. Central Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If your air conditioner smells bad when turned on, particularly a chemical odor, isn’t a positive sign. You may also notice your:

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

These sweet, chemical scents are often a sign 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 over time.

4 Signs You Are Dealing with a Refrigerant Leak

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

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner is cooling.
  2. Ice crystals on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. It’s hard keeping your house cold or reaching your desired temperature.
  4. High utility costs.

How You Can Fix It

A refrigerant leak calls for skilled support from a heating and cooling company like House of Heating Incorporated. Your cooling pro will pinpoint and fix the leak before recharging your air conditioner with refrigerant.

Resolving a refrigerant leak often costs between $225 and $1,600, per nationwide averages assembled by HomeAdvisor. Your precise cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how much time it needs to fix.

If your air conditioner was installed early than 2010, there’s a good chance it has R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being made because of its negative effects on the ozone layer. Because of 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 high likelihood 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 fatal in heavy concentrations.

How You Can Fix It

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

  • Turning off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Evacuating your home right away.
  • Contacting your gas company without delay.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Homeowners who contact us regarding this problem often 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 usually linked to a grubby 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 areas where you need heating at night and during the morning before turning on cooling later in the day.

How to Fix It

The best approach for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to routinely replace your air filter and schedule annual air conditioning maintenance with House of Heating Incorporated. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unblocked, since excess water can also produce noxious 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 issues, including:

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

How to Fix It

Inspect your filter first. If you haven’t changed it within the last three months and can’t see light through it, you should replace it. If that doesn’t resolve the smell, reach House of Heating Incorporated at 715-384-3163.

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 number of things wrong. These involve:

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

Electrical problems should be examined immediately to stop a fire. If you detect burning plastic when your air conditioner is operating, shut it off and call us at 715-384-3163 immediately.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

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

How to Solve It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your wellness. That’s why it’s important to have a professional like House of Heating Incorporated look at your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when needed.

Our Professionals Can Take Care of Odd Air Conditioner Smells Fast

You deserve to be cozy in your house and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are looking for relief from your stinky air conditioner, contact us at 715-384-3163. We’ll determine the trouble quickly and fix it at a competitive.