When your air conditioner starts emitting weird or unappealing smells, it is important to take notice because it could be a sign of a significant problem. Disregarding unpleasant smells coming from your cooling system can lead to further damage to your HVAC system or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on what you’re smelling, the culprit could be bacteria or fungus in the system. Other times, it could also indicate something mechanically wrong with the air conditioning system. Some smells are a warning of a hazardous situation, including a natural gas leak.

At Pratt Brothers, we have a nose for these sorts of things. If you smell something peculiar coming from your AC, you can bet that our team of talented professionals has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned a reputation as the go-to team for air conditioning repair in Jefferson.

What does a certain smell wafting coming from your AC mean? Here are several typical air conditioner aromas and what they may mean:

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it may be caused by a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the unit. When moisture builds inside the unit, it can create 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 stinky feet.

Another likely reason for the stench of dirty feet might be a dirty air filter. When your HVAC system’s air filter becomes clogged with dirt, dust and other contaminants, it can cause substandard air quality and a musty smell that it similar to the smell of feet.

To solve this unpleasant situation, 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 exchange the air filter regularly to promote good air quality and prevent the development of bacteria and fungus.

Your AC Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioning unit reeks of rotten eggs, it might be caused by a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a distinctive odor, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur, that is 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 ventilate the area, evacuate the building and call your gas company or emergency services at once.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew

If your cooling system emits a smell like mildew, it may be due to a buildup of moisture inside the unit. When moisture accumulates inside an air conditioner, it can foster the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty stench that it similar to mildew.

Another possible explanation for the smell may be a clogged air filter. Once the air filter becomes clogged, it can lead to poor air quality and a musty smell that has a resemblance to mildew.

Routine air conditioning maintenance from Pratt Brothers can help protect against both of these issues, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a terrific way to keep your system working at its best!

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine

One of the most undesirable scenarios is when an air conditioner smells like urine.

If your air conditioning equipment smells like urine, it could be due to a variety of factors. One possible cause is a accumulation of bacteria or mold in the your cooling system. This can happen in the event that moisture accumulates in the system and creates a wet environment that can promote bacterial growth. The bacteria can emit a foul odor that resembles urine.

Another feasible 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 properly, but if the drain line becomes clogged with debris, it can cause water to back up and accumulate inside the unit. This can create a musty smell that resembles urine.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your air conditioner smells like burning plastic, a possible cause could be an electrical concern with the unit. After some time, the electrical components in the air conditioning system can wear out or bust, which can make a burning smell that resembles plastic.

Another possible cause of the smell could be a foreign object that somehow got in the unit. If something foreign gets caught in the air conditioning system, it can heat up and cause a smell similar to burning plastic.

If you think you smell burning plastic coming from your air conditioner, it’s worthwhile to call a professional right away.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioning smells like gas, it could be because of a natural gas leak in the unit or in another part of your home. Natural gas has a distinctive aroma, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because a smell is put into natural gas to make sure that it is easily detectable.

As stated previously, a natural gas leak can be VERY harmful and calls for immediate attention. Should 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.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Fish

Should your air conditioning equipment smell like fish, this could be a sign of a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture creates an environment that is conducive to the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a disgusting odor that can be described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can create a smell like dirty feet.

Another potential cause of the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material trapped inside the air conditioning system. This often can take place if an animal such as a mouse or bird gets trapped inside the unit and dies.

To fix the issue, it’s worthwhile to have a professional inspect and clean your air conditioning system. They should be able to identify the source of the smell and take the appropriate steps to remove any contaminants and keep the problem from recurring.

Your AC Smells Like Vinegar

There could be multiple reasons an air conditioner smells like vinegar. One possible cause might be a plugged air filter. Another potential cause of the smell could be a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can make a chemical odor that resembles vinegar.

To fix the issue, it’s beneficial to have a skilled tech look at and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor continues after the cleaning and replacing of the air filter, it’s best to reach back out to a professional to diagnose and repair any hidden issues with your air conditioning. Or, the tech can tell you if your air conditioning needs to be replaced.

If you are wanting to upgrade, Pratt Brothers can help locate the ideal unit to fit your home’s needs. We provide trustworthy, professional air conditioner installation in Jefferson.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is coming out of your air conditioner, it could be caused by a refrigerant leak. In a situation where the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that some people describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.

An additional possible source of the smell could be a problem with the electrical wiring or components inside the air conditioning system. This can cause a burning smell that it similar to chemicals or burning plastic.

If you believe there is a refrigerant leak or an electrical issue, it’s important to shut down your air conditioning system immediately and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be dangerous and may require immediate attention to avoid injury or damage to your house.

Strange Smell Coming from Your Cooling? Call the Pros at Pratt Brothers

If your air conditioner stinks and you aren’t able to fix it easily on your own, reach out to the cooling experts at Pratt Brothers. We have plenty of experience working with a wide variety of air conditioning systems. Our crew has fixed a multitude of air conditioning problems through the years—including weird smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Jefferson!