When your air conditioner starts putting out odd or gross aromas, it is necessary to take notice because it could be a sign of a big problem. Ignoring unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioner could lead to additional damage to your AC or even pose a risk to your health and safety.
Depending on the smell, the root of the problem might be bacteria or fungus in the system. In other cases, it could also sign something mechanically wrong with the AC. Some smells are a warning of a dangerous situation, including a natural gas leak.
At Precision Mechanical, we have a nose for these sorts of things. If you smell something odd coming from your air conditioner, there's a good chance our team of talented professionals has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned the reputation as the first call for air conditioning repair in Rapid City.
What does a particular smell wafting from your cooling system mean? Here are some common air conditioner odors and what they may mean:
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet
If your air conditioner smells like feet, it can be caused by a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the system. When moisture builds inside the unit, it can create an environment that is favorable to the development of bacteria and fungus. This can result in a nasty odor that is often described as smelling like feet.
Another possible cause of the smell might be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes filled with dirt, dust and other contaminants, it can result in low air quality and a musty smell that bears a resemblance to feet.
To correct this dilemma, it's important to have an experienced specialist inspect and clean your air conditioning system, including the evaporator coil, drain pan and condensate drain line. It's also important to replace the air filter on a regular basis to ensure good air quality and restrict the formation of bacteria and fungus.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs
If your air conditioning unit 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, that is added to it to make it easily detectable.
A natural gas leak is very dangerous and requires immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, immediately open windows and doors to air out the area, evacuate the building and call your gas company or emergency services right away.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew
If your AC emits a smell like mildew, it might be due to a collection of moisture inside the unit. When moisture forms inside the air conditioning system, it can promote the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty smell that resembles mildew.
Another possible cause of the smell could be a dirty air filter. If the air filter becomes clogged, it can cause poor air quality and a musty smell that has a resemblance to mildew.
Annual air conditioning maintenance from Precision Mechanical can help avoid both of these situations, 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 smells like urine, it could could be caused by multiple factors. One possible cause is a collection of bacteria or mold in the air conditioning system. This can happen in the event that moisture accumulates in the system and creates a damp environment that is conducive to bacterial growth. The bacteria can produce a foul odor that is like urine.
Another feasible cause of the smell could be a plugged drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away effectively, but if the drain line becomes filled with debris, it can cause water to back up and build up inside the unit. This can create a musty smell that can stink like urine.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic
If your air conditioning unit smells like burning plastic, this could indicate an electrical problem with the unit. Over time, the electrical components in the air conditioning system can wear out or break, which can produce a burning smell that resembles plastic.
Another possible 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 similar to burning plastic.
If you think you smell burning plastic coming from your air conditioner, it’s essential to contact a professional right away.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas
If your air conditioner smells like gas, there could be a natural gas leak in the unit or in another part of your home. Natural gas has a distinct smell, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because an odor is put into natural gas so that it is easily detectable.
As stated earlier, a natural gas leak can be VERY hazardous and requires immediate attention. When 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 straight away.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish
Should your air conditioning equipment smell like fish, you may have a situation where there's a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture produces an environment that fosters the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a disgusting odor that is often described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can create a smell like dirty feet.
Another plausible explanation for the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material caught inside the air conditioning system. This often is possible if an animal such as a mouse or bird gets trapped inside the unit and dies.
To fix the issue, it's important to have a professional inspect and clean your air conditioning system. They should be able to find 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 several reasons your air conditioner smells like vinegar. One possible cause might be a plugged air filter. A second likely cause of the smell might be a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can make a chemical odor that is similar to vinegar.
To fix the issue, it's important to have a skilled mechanic inspect and clean your air conditioning. If the odor lingers after the cleaning and exchanging the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to diagnose and repair any persistent issues with your air conditioning. Or, the mechanic can tell you if your air conditioning should be replaced.
If you are wanting to upgrade, Precision Mechanical can help find the right unit to fit your home’s needs. We deliver trustworthy, expert air conditioner installation in Rapid City.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals
If the smell of chemicals is emitting out of your air conditioning equipment, it could be caused by a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical scent that is often described as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.
Another possible reason for the smell could be something wrong with the electrical wiring or elements 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 hazardous and may require immediate attention to prevent injury or damage to your house.
Strange Smell Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at Precision Mechanical
If your air conditioner reeks and you aren’t able to fix it smoothly on your own, call the cooling specialists at Precision Mechanical. We have lots of experience working with a wide variety of AC systems. Our crew has fixed many air conditioning problems through the years—including weird smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Rapid City!