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

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is fresh and working right, it’s not normal to be smelling anything odd. Unexpected air conditioner noises and strange smells are a sign that something is off. If your air conditioner is old or you haven’t had maintenance scheduled within the last year, they can be an obvious sign you need skilled air conditioning repair in Shelby.

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

1. Central Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If your air conditioner smells bad when turned on, especially a chemical scent, isn’t a great sign. You could also notice your:

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

These sweet, chemical smells are regularly a hint that your air conditioner has a refrigerant leak. Your system relies on this gas to move heat through copper coils, which can crack as time goes on.

4 Hints You Are Experiencing a Refrigerant Leak

Besides the odd smell, here are four other hints that you have a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner runs.
  2. Ice crystals on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. Difficulty keeping your residence cool or achieving your set temperature.
  4. Increasing electrical costs.

How You Can Fix It

A refrigerant leak requires experienced assistance from a heating and cooling company like Hopper Heating and Air. Your cooling technician will pinpoint and fix the leak before recharging your AC with refrigerant.

Fixing a refrigerant leak typically costs between $225 and $1,600, based on nationwide averages put together 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 prior to 2010, there’s a high probability it uses R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being produced because of its negative effects on the ozone layer. Because of this, repairs can be significantly expensive so it may be wisest to consider air conditioning installation in this circumstance.

2. Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, there’s likely nothing wrong with it. But there’s a significant likelihood you have a natural gas leak in your house. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to warn you when there’s a leak, because the gas can be fatal in large amounts.

How You Can Solve It

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

  • Switching off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Evacuating your home promptly.
  • Contacting your gas company without delay.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Homeowners who contact us about this problem usually say their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it’s on. Also known as dirty sock syndrome, this smell is frequently caused by a grubby evaporator coil that has mold, mildew and bacteria buildup. Condensation can also make your home air conditioner smell bad. Dirty sock syndrome is most often seen in locations where you turn on heating at night and during the morning before switching to cooling during the afternoon.

How to Fix It

The best method for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to routinely get a new air filter and schedule routine air conditioning maintenance with Hopper Heating and Air. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system flowing, because excess water can also create noxious odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are dealing with air conditioner mildew smell or an acidic, vinegar-like odor, it might be the result of several issues, including:

  • A dirty filter
  • Too much condensation
  • Blocked condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Fix It

Examine your filter first. If you haven’t put in a new one within the last three months and can’t see light through it, you should replace it. If that doesn’t resolve the smell, contact Hopper Heating and Air at 704-233-7363.

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 several things wrong. These include:

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

Electrical issues should be inspected quickly to avoid a fire. If you smell burning plastic when your air conditioner is operating, shut it off and reach us at 704-233-7363 immediately.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

An overpowering ammonia odor means there may be mold growing in your air conditioner or ductwork. The smell isn’t the mold itself, but the mycotoxins that mold produces.

How to Repair It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your health. That’s why you should have a specialist like Hopper Heating and Air check your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when necessary.

Our Professionals Can Take Care of Weird Air Conditioner Smells Quickly

You deserve to be cozy in your house and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are seeking relief from your noxious air conditioner, contact us at 704-233-7363. We’ll determine the issue quickly and resolve it at a competitive.