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

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is fresh and running properly, it’s expected you won’t be smelling anything weird. Peculiar air conditioner noises and odd smells are a sign that something is up. If your air conditioner is old or you haven’t had maintenance done within the last year, they can be a sure sign you need pro air conditioning repair in Pocatello.

Here are six of the most common 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, particularly a chemical scent, isn’t a great sign. You may also report your:

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

These sweet, chemical smells are often a hint that your air conditioner is suffering from a refrigerant leak. Your system uses this gas to move heat through copper coils, which can crack as time goes on.

4 Hints You Are Dealing with a Refrigerant Leak

Besides the odd smell, here are four other signs that you are experiencing a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner runs.
  2. Ice crystals on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. It’s hard keeping your home cold or achieving your set temperature.
  4. Higher utility expenses.

How You Can Take Care of It

A refrigerant leak requires professional support from a heating and cooling company like Vogts Heating & Air. Your cooling professional will locate and fix the leak before recharging your system with refrigerant.

Resolving a refrigerant leak typically costs between $225 and $1,600, according to nationwide averages assembled by HomeAdvisor. Your precise cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how much time it takes to repair.

If your air conditioner was installed early than 2010, it’s likely it runs on R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being produced as a result of its harmful effects on the ozone layer. Due to this, repairs can be significantly expensive so it may be wisest to consider air conditioning installation in this circumstance.

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 chance you have a natural gas leak in your home. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to alert you when there’s a leak, since the gas can be fatal in large amounts.

How You Can Solve It

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

  • Switching off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Evacuating your home right away.
  • Contacting your gas company without delay.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

People who reach us about this problem often report 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 often linked to a grubby evaporator coil that has mold, mildew and bacteria buildup. Condensation can also make your home air conditioner smell bad. Dirty sock syndrome is most often seen in climates where you need heating at night and during the morning before switching to cooling later in the day.

How to Fix It

The best method for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to frequently get a new air filter and schedule regular air conditioning maintenance with Vogts Heating & Air. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unclogged, as excess water can also lead to noxious odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are experiencing air conditioner mildew smell or an acidic, vinegar-like odor, it can be prompted by several situations, such as:

  • 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 put in a new one within the last three months and can’t see light through it, we recommend replacing it. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, reach Vogts Heating & Air at 208-621-0129.

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 several things wrong. These entail:

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

Electrical issues should be inspected right away to avoid a fire. If you detect burning plastic when your air conditioner is running, turn it off and contact us at 208-621-0129 without delay.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

A strong 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 creates.

How to Fix It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your health. That’s why we recommend having a professional like Vogts Heating & Air examine your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when necessary.

Our Professionals Can Get Rid of Unpleasant Air Conditioner Smells Quickly

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, reach us at 208-621-0129. We’ll figure out the problem quickly and fix it at a competitive.