When your air conditioner starts emitting odd or unappealing odors, it is important to take notice because it could be a sign of a significant problem. Dismissing unpleasant smells coming from your cooling system could lead to further damage to your AC or even pose a risk to your health and safety.
Depending on the cause of the odor, the culprit might be bacteria or fungus in the system. Other times, it could also signal something mechanically wrong with the air conditioner. Some smells are even indicative of an unsafe situation, including a natural gas leak.
At Tri City Fuel & Heating, we are experienced at getting to the root cause of stinky smells. If you smell something weird coming from your cooling system, chances are our team of qualified specialists has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned the reputation as the first call for air conditioning repair in West Columbia.
What does a certain smell coming out of your air conditioning mean? Here are several typical air conditioner smells and what they could mean:
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet
If your air conditioner smells like feet, it can be because of a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the unit. When moisture accumulates inside the unit, it can create an environment that is conducive to the development of bacteria and fungus. This can cause a foul odor that is often described as smelling like dirty feet.
Another potential reason for the smell may be a dirty air filter. When your HVAC system's air filter becomes choked with dirt, dust and other particles, it can lead to substandard air quality and a musty smell that bears a resemblance to feet.
To fix this dilemma, it's important to have a quality service tech inspect and clean your air conditioning system, including the evaporator coil, drain pan and condensate drain line. It's also important to exchange the air filter routinely to ensure good air quality and prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs
If your stinks like rotten eggs, it could be due to 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 added to it to make it easily detectable.
A natural gas leak is extremely dangerous and requires immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, immediately open windows and doors to allow gas to escape the area, evacuate the building and call your gas company or emergency services right away.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew
If your air conditioner emits a smell like mildew, it might be due to a collection of moisture inside the unit. When moisture accumulates inside an air conditioner, it can promote the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty stench that bears a resemblance to mildew.
Another possible cause of the smell could be a clogged air filter. If the air filter becomes clogged, it can lead to poor air quality and a musty smell that resembles mildew.
Regular air conditioning maintenance from Tri City Fuel & Heating can help prevent both of these problems, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a very good way to keep your system running at its best!
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine
One of the most unpleasant situations is when the air coming out of your HVAC system smells like urine.
If your air conditioning equipment reeks of urine, it could be traced back to a number of things. One possible cause is a accumulation of bacteria or mold in the your HVAC. This can happen when moisture accumulates in the system and creates a damp environment that favorable for bacterial growth. The bacteria can produce a foul odor that some people describe as smelling like urine.
Another feasible cause of the smell 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 filled with debris, it can cause water to back up and collect inside the unit. This can produce a musty smell that resembles urine.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic
If your AC smells like burning plastic, this could indicate an electrical concern with the unit. After some time, the electrical components in the air conditioning system can wear out or malfunction, which can create a burning smell that resembles plastic.
Another possible root cause of the smell could be a foreign object lodged in the HVAC system. If something foreign gets caught in the air conditioning system, it can heat up and result in a smell that reminds people of burning plastic.
If you think you smell burning plastic coming from your AC unit, it’s essential to phone a professional right away.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas
If your AC smells like gas, it could be due to a natural gas leak in the unit or in another part of your home. Natural gas has a recognizable smell, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because this scent is incorporated into natural gas so that it is easily detectable.
As stated earlier, a natural gas leak can be VERY harmful and needs immediate attention. Should you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, open windows and doors to air out the home, get everyone out of the building and phone your gas company or emergency services as soon as possible.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish
Should your air conditioning equipment smell like fish, this could be a sign of a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture creates an environment that is conducive to the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a foul odor that can be 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 inside the air conditioning system. This often can take place if an animal such as a mouse or bird is trapped inside the unit and dies.
To correct the issue, it's important to have a professional inspect and clean your cooling system. They can identify 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 numerous reasons a home's air conditioner smells like vinegar. One possible cause of the smell could be a plugged air filter. A second potential cause of the smell might be a refrigerant leak. Sometimes after the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that is similar to vinegar.
To fix the issue, it's important to have a skilled tech look at and clean your air conditioning. If the odor continues after the cleaning and exchanging the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to find and repair any hidden issues with your air conditioning. Or, the mechanic can tell you if your air conditioning ought to be replaced.
If you are planning to upgrade, Tri City Fuel & Heating can help find the correct unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer trustworthy, professional air conditioner installation in West Columbia.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals
If the smell of chemicals is emitting out of your air conditioner, it could be caused by a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that some people describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.
Another possible reason for the smell could be a problem with the electrical wiring or parts inside the air conditioning system. This can result in a burning smell that it similar to chemicals or burning plastic.
If you think your system has a refrigerant leak or an electrical issue, it's important to turn off your air conditioning system right away and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be dangerous and may require immediate attention to protect against injury or damage to your residence.
Strange Smell Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at Tri City Fuel & Heating
If your air conditioner smells nasty and you aren’t able to fix it smoothly on your own, contact the cooling experts at Tri City Fuel & Heating. We have lots of experience working with a wide variety of air conditioning systems. Our crew has fixed a multitude of air conditioning problems over the years—including funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in West Columbia!