6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Answered and How to Fix Them

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is clean and running properly, you shouldn’t be smelling anything strange. Out of the ordinary 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 maintenance done recently, they can be an obvious sign you need pro air conditioning repair in Excelsior Springs.

Here are six of the top air conditioner smells and how you can repair them.

1. Central Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If your air conditioner smells bad when turned on, especially a chemical smell, isn’t a good sign. You may also notice your:

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

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

4 Signs You Are Dealing with a Refrigerant Leak

Besides the weird smell, here are four other clues that you have a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner is operating.
  2. Ice crystals on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. Difficulty keeping your house cool or having your programmed temperature.
  4. High energy expenses.

How You Can Repair It

A refrigerant leak calls for professional repairs from a heating and cooling company like Colvin's Heating and Cooling. Your cooling specialist will locate and mend the leak before recharging your AC with refrigerant.

Fixing a refrigerant leak often costs between $225 and $1,600, per nationwide averages put together by HomeAdvisor. Your total 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 before 2010, there’s a good chance it uses R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being made as a result of its negative effects on the ozone layer. As a consequence, repairs can be significantly expensive so it may be smartest to consider 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 significant likelihood you have a natural gas leak in your residence. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to warn you when there’s a leak, since the gas can be toxic in big amounts.

How You Can Repair It

If you detect a sulfur or rotten egg odor, we suggest:

  • Switching off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Evacuating your home as soon as possible.
  • Getting in touch with your gas company immediately.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

People who call us about this issue usually mention their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it’s on. Also referred to as dirty sock syndrome, this smell is often created by a grubby evaporator coil that has mold, mildew and bacteria buildup. Excess water can also make your home air conditioner smell bad. Dirty sock syndrome is most common in areas where you need heating at night and during the morning before transitioning to cooling during the afternoon.

How to Solve It

The best way to prevent dirty sock syndrome is to frequently replace your air filter and schedule regular air conditioning maintenance with Colvin's Heating and Cooling. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system flowing, since excess water can also lead to nasty odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are living with air conditioner mildew smell or a pungent, vinegar-like odor, it might be caused by several problems, like:

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

How to Resolve It

Check your filter first. If you haven’t replaced it within the last three months and can’t see light through it, you should replace it. If that doesn’t resolve the smell, reach Colvin's Heating and Cooling at 816-379-3918.

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 include:

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

Electrical issues should be inspected quickly to stop a fire. If you notice burning plastic when your air conditioner is on, shut it off and reach us at 816-379-3918 immediately.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

A powerful ammonia odor means there could be mold present within your air conditioner or ductwork. The smell isn’t the mold itself, but the mycotoxins that mold produces.

How to Fix It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your wellness. That’s why you should have a pro like Colvin's Heating and Cooling check your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when recommended.

Our Pros Can Get Rid of Unpleasant 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 stinky air conditioner, contact us at 816-379-3918. We’ll diagnose the problem quickly and fix it at a fair price.