6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Decoded and How to Repair the Issue

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is fresh and running properly, you shouldn’t be smelling anything weird. Unexpected air conditioner noises and odd smells are a sign that something is out of whack. If your air conditioner is aging or you haven’t had a tune-up completed lately, they can be a clear sign you need professional air conditioning repair in Grove City.

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 odor, isn’t a good sign. You may also observe your:

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

These sweet, chemical smells are frequently a sign that your air conditioner is experiencing a refrigerant leak. Your system uses this gas to shift heat through copper coils, which can crack over time.

4 Hints You Have a Refrigerant Leak

In addition to the strange smell, here are four other hints that you have a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner is cooling.
  2. Ice on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. It’s hard keeping your house comfortable or achieving your programmed temperature.
  4. High electrical costs.

How You Can Take Care of It

A refrigerant leak calls for skilled assistance from a heating and cooling company like Air Quality Solutions. Your cooling pro will find and fix the leak before recharging your AC with refrigerant.

Resolving a refrigerant leak usually costs between $225 and $1,600, based on nationwide averages assembled by HomeAdvisor. Your total cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how many hours it requires to repair.

If your air conditioner was installed prior to 2010, it’s likely it runs on R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being manufactured as a result of its negative effects on the ozone layer. Consequently, repairs can be extremely expensive so it may be wisest to do air conditioning installation in this situation.

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 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, as the gas can be toxic in heavy concentrations.

How You Can Solve It

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

  • Shutting off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Going outside right away.
  • Call your gas company immediately.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

People who contact us about this issue often share their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it’s running. Also referred to as dirty sock syndrome, this smell is usually caused by a filthy evaporator coil that has mold, mildew and bacteria buildup. Condensation can also make your home air conditioner smell bad. Dirty sock syndrome is most typical in areas where you use heating at night and during the morning before transitioning to cooling later in the day.

How to Solve It

The best approach for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to regularly change your air filter and schedule regular air conditioning maintenance with Air Quality Solutions. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system flowing, as stagnant water can also produce nasty odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are dealing with air conditioner mildew smell or an acidic, vinegar-like odor, it could be the result of several problems, including:

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

How to Repair It

Examine 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 problem, reach Air Quality Solutions at 614-871-4144.

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 couple of things wrong. These involve:

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

Electrical malfunctions should be checked quickly to avoid a fire. If you detect burning plastic when your air conditioner is running, shut it off and contact us at 614-871-4144 without delay.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

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

How to Fix It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your well-being. That’s why you should have a pro like Air Quality Solutions look at your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when necessary.

Our Professionals Can Eliminate Strange Air Conditioner Smells Quickly

You deserve to be cozy in your residence and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you need relief from your stinky air conditioner, give us a call at 614-871-4144. We’ll figure out the issue quickly and resolve it at a fair price.