When your air conditioner starts spewing weird or funky smells, it is important to take notice because it could be a sign of a major problem. Ignoring unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioner may lead to serious damage to your air conditioning or even pose a risk to your health and safety.
Depending on the cause of the odor, the culprit might be bacteria or fungus in the system. In other cases, it could also sign something mechanically wrong with the air conditioning system. Some smells are a warning of a dangerous problem, like a natural gas leak.
At AZ Air Conditioning and Heating, we have a nose for these sorts of things. If you smell something weird coming from your cooling system, you can bet that our team of talented professionals has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned a reputation as the first call for air conditioning repair in Los Angeles.
What does a certain smell coming from your AC mean? Here are some frequent air conditioner smells and what they could mean:
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet
If your air conditioner smells like feet, it might be because of a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the system. When moisture collects inside the unit, it can produce an environment that is conducive to the spread of bacteria and fungus. This can produce a foul odor that is often described as smelling like feet.
Another potential reason for an odor of stinky feet might be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes clogged with dirt, dust and other particles, it can cause low air quality and a musty smell that it similar to the smell of feet.
To fix this problem, it's important to have an experienced specialist inspect and clean your air conditioning system, including the evaporator coil, drain pan and condensate drain line. It's also important to change the air filter on a regular basis to promote good air quality and restrict the development of bacteria and fungus.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs
If your stinks like rotten eggs, it might be the result of 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 very dangerous and requires immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, immediately open windows and doors to air out the area, evacuate the building and call your gas company or emergency services immediately.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew
If your air conditioner smells like mildew, it could be due to a collection of moisture inside the unit. When moisture accumulates inside a cooling system, it can cultivate the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty odor that bears a resemblance to mildew.
Another possible reason for the smell could be a soiled air filter. When the air filter becomes clogged, it can lead to poor air quality and a musty smell that is similar to mildew.
Routine air conditioning maintenance from AZ Air Conditioning and Heating can help protect against both of these problems, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a very good way to keep your system running at its best!
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine
One of the most distressing things is when an air conditioner smells like urine.
If your air conditioning stinks like urine, it could be traced back to a number of things. One likely cause is a collection of bacteria or mold in the your cooling system. This can happen in the event that moisture accumulates in the system and creates a moist environment that can promote bacterial growth. The bacteria can create a foul odor that resembles urine.
Another possible cause of the scent of urine could be a blocked drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away correctly, but if the drain line becomes choked with debris, it can cause water to back up and collect inside the unit. This can produce a musty smell that can stink like urine.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic
If your air conditioning system smells like burning plastic, this could indicate an electrical concern with the unit. Over time, the electrical elements in the air conditioning system can wear out or break, which can produce a burning smell that resembles plastic.
Another possible cause of the smell could be a foreign object stuck in the the air conditioner. If something foreign gets caught in the air conditioning system, it can heat up and result in a smell like burning plastic.
If you think you smell burning plastic coming from your AC unit, it’s worthwhile to contact a professional right away.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas
If your AC smells like gas, it could be due to a natural gas leak in the unit or in another part of your home. Natural gas has a distinct odor, often described as smelling similar to rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because this scent is incorporated into natural gas to make sure that it is easily detectable.
As mentioned before, a natural gas leak can be VERY harmful and calls for immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, open windows and doors to air out the home, get everyone out of the building and call your gas company or emergency services straight away.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish
When your air conditioner smell like fish, this could be a sign of a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture causes an environment that fosters the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a foul odor that is sometimes described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can result in a smell like dirty feet.
Another potential cause of the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material stuck in the air conditioning system. This often can happen if an animal such as a mouse or bird becomes trapped inside the unit and dies.
To correct the issue, it's often necessary to have a professional examine and clean your air conditioning system. They can identify the source of the smell and take the appropriate steps to remove any contaminants and prevent the problem from recurring.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar
There could be numerous reasons your air conditioning system smells like vinegar. One possible cause is a clogged air filter. One other likely cause of the smell could be a refrigerant leak. Sometimes after the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that resembles vinegar.
To fix the issue, it's beneficial to have a skilled specialist examine and clean your air conditioning. If the odor persists after the cleaning and changing of the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to find and repair any persistent issues with your air conditioning. Or, they can tell you if your air conditioning needs to be replaced.
If you are looking to upgrade, AZ Air Conditioning and Heating can help locate the right unit to fit your home’s needs. We deliver trustworthy, skilled air conditioner installation in Los Angeles.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals
If the smell of chemicals is emitting out of your air conditioning unit, it could be the result of a refrigerant leak. If the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that some people 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 parts inside the air conditioning system. This can cause a burning smell that is like chemicals or burning plastic.
If you suspect a refrigerant leak or an electrical concern, it's important to shut off your air conditioning system right away and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be dangerous and may require immediate attention to prevent injury or damage to your house.
Strange Smell Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at AZ Air Conditioning and Heating
If your air conditioner stinks and you aren’t able to fix it smoothly on your own, reach out to the cooling experts at AZ Air Conditioning and Heating. We have lots of experience working with a wide variety of AC systems. Our crew has fixed many air conditioning problems throughout the years—including funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Los Angeles!