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

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is fresh and working properly, you shouldn’t be smelling anything odd. Unusual air conditioner noises and strange smells are a hint that something is up. If your air conditioner is past its prime or you haven’t had a tune-up completed recently, they can be a sure sign you need pro air conditioning repair in Moline.

Here are six of the most common 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 positive sign. You may also observe your:

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

These sweet, chemical odors are typically a clue that your air conditioner is suffering from a refrigerant leak. Your system needs this gas to shift heat through copper coils, which can wear out as time goes on.

4 Signs You Are Dealing with a Refrigerant Leak

Aside from the odd smell, here are four other clues that you are dealing with a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner is cooling.
  2. Frost on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. It’s hard keeping your home cold or having your programmed temperature.
  4. Higher energy costs.

How You Can Fix It

A refrigerant leak calls for professional assistance from a heating and cooling company like Freed Heating & Air Conditioning. Your cooling pro will find and fix the leak before recharging your AC with refrigerant.

Resolving a refrigerant leak often costs between $225 and $1,600, according to nationwide averages assembled by HomeAdvisor. Your total cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how long it needs to repair.

If your air conditioner was installed prior to 2010, there’s a good chance it has R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being produced as a result of its negative effects on the ozone layer. Because of this, repairs can be significantly expensive so it may be best to consider air conditioning installation in this situation.

2. Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, there’s probably nothing wrong with it. But there’s a significant likelihood you have a natural gas leak in your residence. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to signal you when there’s a leak, as the gas can be toxic in large amounts.

How You Can Fix It

If you smell a sulfur or rotten egg odor, we recommend:

  • Shutting off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Going outside promptly.
  • Contacting your gas company without delay.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Individuals who reach us to report this problem often say their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it runs. Also called dirty sock syndrome, this smell is often 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 common in climates where you use heating at night and during the morning before switching to cooling later on.

How to Fix It

The best way to prevent dirty sock syndrome is to routinely get a new air filter and schedule routine air conditioning maintenance with Freed Heating & Air Conditioning. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unclogged, because excess water can also create nasty odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

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

  • A dirty filter
  • Extra condensation
  • Clogged condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Solve It

Examine your filter first. If you haven’t changed it within the last three months and can’t see light through it, it’s time to replace it. If that doesn’t resolve the smell, call Freed Heating & Air Conditioning at 309-323-9584.

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 number of things wrong. These involve:

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

Electrical problems should be examined quickly to stop a fire. If you detect burning plastic when your air conditioner is on, switch it off and call us at 309-323-9584 right away.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

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

How to Solve It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your well-being. That’s why we recommend having a professional like Freed Heating & Air Conditioning check your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when recommended.

Our Pros Can Get Rid of Odd 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 looking for relief from your smelly air conditioner, contact us at 309-323-9584. We’ll diagnose the trouble quickly and take care of it at a reasonable.