When your air conditioner starts spewing strange or unappealing odors, it is necessary to take notice because it could be a sign of a big problem. Dismissing unpleasant smells coming from your cooling system can lead to additional damage to your HVAC system or even pose a risk to your health and safety.
Depending on the cause of the odor, the culprit could be bacteria or fungus in the system. Other times, it could also signal something mechanically wrong with the air conditioner. Some smells are a sign of a dangerous situation, like a natural gas leak.
At Ambient Air, we are skilled at diagnosing and fixing these type of problems. If you smell something weird coming from your cooling system, there's a good chance our team of skilled professionals has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned the reputation as the premier company for air conditioning repair in Tucson.
What does a certain smell billowing coming from your air conditioning mean? Here are a few typical air conditioner aromas and what they may mean:
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet
If your air conditioner smells like feet, it may be because of a buildup of bacteria or fungus inside of it. When moisture accumulates inside the unit, it can create an environment that is favorable to the spread of bacteria and fungus. This can result in a bad odor that is often described as smelling like dirty feet.
Another potential reason for the smell could be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes clogged with dirt, dust and other contaminants, it can lead to low air quality and a musty smell that resembles feet.
To solve this issue, it's important to have a professional 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 routinely to promote good air quality and protect against the development of bacteria and fungus.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs
If your air conditioner reeks of rotten eggs, it might be caused by a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a recognizable odor, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur, which is because of a substance added to it to make it easily detectable.
A natural gas leak is extraordinarily 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, make everyone leave the building and call your gas company or emergency services right away.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew
If your air conditioner smells like mildew, it might be due to a accumulation of moisture inside the unit. When moisture collects inside a cooling system, it can cultivate the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty odor that it similar to mildew.
Another possible cause of the smell might be a clogged air filter. Once the air filter becomes clogged, it can lead to poor air quality and a musty smell that has a resemblance to mildew.
Routine air conditioning maintenance from Ambient Air can help avoid both of these issues, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a great way to keep your system operating at its best!
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine
One of the most distressing things is when the air coming out of your HVAC system smells like urine.
If your air conditioning equipment smells like urine, it could could be caused by multiple factors. One potential cause is a collection of bacteria or mold in the your HVAC. This can happen in the event that moisture accumulates in the system and creates a wet environment that is conducive to bacterial growth. The bacteria can emit a foul odor that resembles urine.
Another possible cause of the stink 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 build up inside the unit. This can generate a musty smell that can stink like urine.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic
If your air conditioner smells like burning plastic, a possible cause could be an electrical problem with the unit. Over 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 cause of the smell could be a foreign object that somehow got in the unit. If something foreign gets stuck in the air conditioning system, it can get hot and cause a smell similar to burning plastic.
If you think you smell burning plastic coming from your cooling system, it’s important to call a professional right away.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas
If your air conditioner smells like gas, it could be because of a natural gas leak in the unit or in your home. Natural gas has a recognizable aroma, often described as smelling similar to rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because a smell is added to natural gas to make sure that it is easily detectable.
As mentioned previously, a natural gas leak can be VERY hazardous and requires immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, open windows and doors to air out the home, leave the building and phone your gas company or emergency services as soon as possible.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish
If your air conditioner smell like fish, it could be due to a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture causes an environment that is conducive to 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 stuck inside the air conditioning system. This often is possible if an animal such as a mouse or bird is trapped inside the unit and dies.
To fix the issue, it's often necessary to have a professional examine and clean your HVAC system. They should be able to find the source of the smell and take the proper steps to remove any contaminants and prevent the problem from recurring.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar
There could be numerous reasons a home's AC smells like vinegar. One possible cause might be a clogged air filter. One other possible cause of the smell could be a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can generate a chemical odor that is described as smelling of vinegar.
To fix the issue, it's beneficial to have a skilled mechanic examine and clean your air conditioning. If the odor continues after the cleaning and replacing of the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to identify and repair any underlying issues with your air conditioning. Or, they can tell you if your air conditioning should be replaced.
If you are looking to upgrade, Ambient Air can help select the right unit to fit your home’s needs. We deliver dependable, skilled air conditioner installation in Tucson.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals
If the smell of chemicals is coming from your air conditioner, it could be caused by a refrigerant leak. In a situation where the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical scent that people sometimes describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.
Another possible source of the smell could be problems with the electrical wiring or elements inside the air conditioning system. This can cause a burning smell that it similar to chemicals or burning plastic.
If you believe there is a refrigerant leak or an electrical issue, it's important to shut down your air conditioning system as soon as possible and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be harmful and may require immediate attention to avoid injury or damage to your house.
Strange Smell Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at Ambient Air
If your air conditioner smells nasty and you aren’t able to fix it simply on your own, reach out to the cooling specialists at Ambient Air. We have lots of experience working with a wide variety of air conditioning systems. Our crew has fixed a multitude of air conditioning troubles over the years—including funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Tucson!