When your air conditioner starts putting out strange or unappealing smells, it is necessary to take notice because it could be a sign of a significant problem. Dismissing unpleasant smells coming from your cooling system could lead to serious damage to your HVAC system or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on the cause of the odor, the root of the problem might be bacteria or fungus in the system. Other times, it could also indicate something mechanically wrong with the air conditioner. Some smells are a sign of an unsafe situation, like a natural gas leak.

At Vogts Heating & Air, we are experienced at getting to the root cause of stinky smells. If you smell something peculiar coming from your cooling system, chances are our team of skilled professionals has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned a reputation as the premier company for air conditioning repair in Pocatello.

What does a specific odor billowing coming from your cooling system mean? Here are several common air conditioner aromas and what they may mean:

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it could be due to a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the system. When moisture accumulates inside the unit, it can produce an environment that is favorable to the spread of bacteria and fungus. This can cause a nasty odor that is often described as smelling like feet.

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

To fix this problem, it's important to have a quality service tech 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 routinely to provide good air quality and prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus.

Your AC Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioning unit reeks of rotten eggs, it may 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, which is added to it to make it easily detectable.

A natural gas leak is extremely 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, make everyone leave the building and call your gas company or emergency services at once.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Mildew

If your cooling system emits a smell like mildew, it could be due to a collection of moisture inside the unit. When moisture collects inside an air conditioner, it can foster the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty smell that bears a resemblance to mildew.

Another possible explanation for the smell may be a soiled air filter. Once the air filter becomes clogged, it can result in poor air quality and a musty smell that is similar to mildew.

Regular air conditioning maintenance from Vogts Heating & Air can help protect against both of these issues, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a great way to keep your system operating at its best!

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine

One of the most distressing situations is when the air coming out of your HVAC system smells like urine.

If your air conditioner reeks of urine, it could could be caused by multiple factors. One possible cause is a collection of bacteria or mold in the your HVAC. This can happen if moisture accumulates in the system and creates a moist environment that favorable for bacterial growth. The bacteria can create a foul odor that resembles urine.

Another feasible cause of the scent of urine could be a plugged drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away effectively, but if the drain line becomes choked with debris, it can cause water to back up and build up inside the unit. This can produce a musty smell that resembles urine.

Your AC Smells Like Burning Plastic

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

Another possible root cause of the smell could be a foreign object that somehow got in the unit. If something foreign gets trapped in the air conditioning system, it can get hot and cause a smell that reminds people of burning plastic.

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

Your AC Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner 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 recognizable smell, often described as smelling of rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because an odor is added to natural gas to make it easily detectable.

As mentioned before, a natural gas leak can be VERY harmful and needs immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, open windows and doors to air out the home, evacuate the building and contact your gas company or emergency services right away.

Your AC Smells Like Fish

When your air conditioning equipment smell like fish, you may have a situation where there's 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 strong 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 take place if an animal such as a mouse or bird gets trapped inside the unit and dies.

To correct the issue, it's often necessary to have a professional check out and clean your air conditioning system. They can determine the source of the smell and take the appropriate steps to remove any contaminants and prevent the problem from recurring.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

There could be several reasons an AC smells like vinegar. One possible cause of the smell could be a clogged air filter. A second potential cause of the smell might be a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that is described as smelling of vinegar.

To fix the issue, it's essential to have a skilled specialist look at and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor lingers after the cleaning and replacing 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, Vogts Heating & Air can help find the correct unit to fit your home’s needs. We provide reliable, expert air conditioner installation in Pocatello.

Your AC Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is coming out of your air conditioning equipment, it could be due to a refrigerant leak. In a situation where the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical scent that people sometimes describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.

Another possible cause of the smell could be problems with the electrical wiring or components inside the air conditioning system. This can cause a burning smell that resembles chemicals or burning plastic.

If you believe there is a refrigerant leak or an electrical problem, it's important to turn off your air conditioning system right away and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be hazardous and may require immediate attention to prevent injury or damage to your residence.

A Nasty Odor Coming from the Air Conditioning? Call the Pros at Vogts Heating & Air

If your air conditioner smells nasty and you aren’t able to fix it smoothly on your own, contact the cooling specialists at Vogts Heating & Air. We have years of experience working with a wide variety of AC systems. Our crew has fixed countless air conditioning concerns through the years—including strange smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Pocatello!