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

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is fresh and working right, it’s not normal to be smelling anything strange. Unusual air conditioner noises and strange smells are a sign that something is up. If your air conditioner is aging or you haven’t had service scheduled recently, they can be a sure sign you need professional air conditioning repair in Mechanicsville.

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

1. Central Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If your air conditioner smells bad when turned on, specifically a chemical odor, isn’t a good sign. You could also notice your:

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

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

4 Signs You Are Dealing with a Refrigerant Leak

Besides the weird smell, here are four other signs that you are dealing with a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner runs.
  2. Ice on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. Trouble keeping your home cool or having your programmed temperature.
  4. High energy costs.

How You Can Take Care of It

A refrigerant leak requires skilled support from a heating and cooling company like M & S Heating & Air LLC. Your cooling pro will find and repair the leak before recharging your AC with refrigerant.

Resolving a refrigerant leak typically costs between $225 and $1,600, per 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 fix.

If your air conditioner was installed prior to 2010, there’s a good chance it runs on R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being produced because of its damaging effects on the ozone layer. Consequently, repairs can be very expensive so it may be best to do air conditioning installation in this instance.

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 good likelihood you have a natural gas leak in your residence. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to alert you when there’s a leak, because the gas can be toxic in big amounts.

How You Can Repair It

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

  • Switching off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Leaving your home right away.
  • Getting in touch with your gas company immediately.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Homeowners who contact us to report this situation frequently 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 usually created by a filthy evaporator coil that has mold, mildew and bacteria buildup. Moisture can also make your home air conditioner smell bad. Dirty sock syndrome is most common in areas where you use heating at night and during the morning before switching to cooling later on.

How to Repair It

The best approach for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to routinely replace your air filter and schedule annual air conditioning maintenance with M & S Heating & Air LLC. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unblocked, since stagnant water can also produce unpleasant odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are dealing with air conditioner mildew smell or a pungent, vinegar-like odor, it can be prompted by several problems, including:

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

How to Solve 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, it’s time to replace it. If that doesn’t resolve the smell, call M & S Heating & Air LLC at 301-363-4699.

5. Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If you’re experiencing 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 malfunctions.

Electrical issues should be examined immediately to avoid a fire. If you smell burning plastic when your air conditioner is running, switch it off and call us at 301-363-4699 without delay.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

A strong ammonia odor means there may be mold spreading 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 well-being. That’s why we recommend having a specialist like M & S Heating & Air LLC check your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when necessary.

Our Pros Can Take Care of Odd Air Conditioner Smells Fast

You deserve to be comfortable in your home and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are seeking relief from your smelly air conditioner, contact us at 301-363-4699. We’ll determine the trouble quickly and take care of it at a competitive.