6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Explained and How to Fix Them

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is spotless and running properly, it’s expected you won’t be smelling anything weird. Abnormal air conditioner noises and odd smells are a sign that something is out of whack. If your air conditioner is old or you haven’t had service done recently, they can be a clear sign you need skilled air conditioning repair in Mount Hope.

Here are six of the top 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 odor, isn’t a great sign. You may also observe your:

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

These sweet, chemical odors are frequently a sign that your air conditioner is suffering from a refrigerant leak. Your system needs this gas to move heat through copper coils, which can crack as time goes on.

4 Hints You Are Dealing with a Refrigerant Leak

Aside from the odd smell, here are four other hints 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 comfortable or achieving your desired temperature.
  4. High utility costs.

How You Can Repair It

A refrigerant leak calls for skilled support from a heating and cooling company like Appalachian Heating. Your cooling pro will find and repair the leak before recharging your air conditioner with refrigerant.

Fixing a refrigerant leak typically costs between $225 and $1,600, according to nationwide averages compiled by HomeAdvisor. Your precise cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how long it takes to solve.

If your air conditioner was installed before 2010, there’s a good chance it uses R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being manufactured due to its adverse effects on the ozone layer. As a consequence, repairs can be significantly expensive so it may be wisest to do 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 high chance you have a natural gas leak in your home. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to alert you when there’s a leak, because the gas can be toxic in heavy concentrations.

How You Can Solve It

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

  • Shutting off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Going outside right away.
  • Getting in touch with your gas company immediately.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

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

How to Fix It

The best approach for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to regularly change your air filter and schedule annual air conditioning maintenance with Appalachian Heating. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unclogged, since standing water can also lead to nasty odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are dealing with air conditioner mildew smell or a pungent, vinegar-like odor, it might be prompted by several situations, such as:

  • A clogged filter
  • Excess condensation
  • Blocked condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Fix It

Inspect your filter first. If you haven’t changed it within the last three months and can’t see light through it, you should replace it. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, reach Appalachian Heating at 304-707-0600.

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 several things wrong. These entail:

  • Broken capacitator that’s overheating the motor.
  • Motor that needs lubrication.
  • Broken fan belt.
  • Electrical problem.

Electrical issues should be inspected quickly to prevent a fire. If you detect burning plastic when your air conditioner is running, switch it off and call us at 304-707-0600 without delay.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

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

How to Solve It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your health. That’s why we recommend having a professional like Appalachian Heating check your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when necessary.

Our Pros Can Get Rid of Weird Air Conditioner Smells Quickly

You deserve to be comfy in your home and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you need relief from your smelly air conditioner, give us a call at 304-707-0600. We’ll figure out the issue quickly and fix it at a fair price.