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

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is fresh and working right, it’s not normal to be smelling anything strange. Unusual air conditioner noises and weird smells are a clue that something is off. If your air conditioner is old or you haven’t had a tune-up completed within the last year, they can be an obvious sign you need skilled air conditioning repair in Circleville.

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, especially a chemical smell, isn’t a great sign. You may also observe your:

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

These sweet, chemical smells are frequently a clue that your air conditioner has a refrigerant leak. Your system uses this gas to transfer heat through copper coils, which can break out as time passes.

4 Clues You Are Experiencing a Refrigerant Leak

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

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner is operating.
  2. Frost on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. It’s hard keeping your house comfortable or achieving your programmed temperature.
  4. Higher utility expenses.

How You Can Repair It

A refrigerant leak needs skilled repairs from a heating and cooling company like Stephen Hurst Pack Heating and Cooling, Inc. Your cooling professional will pinpoint and fix the leak before recharging your system with refrigerant.

Fixing a refrigerant leak often costs between $225 and $1,600, per nationwide averages assembled by HomeAdvisor. Your total cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how much time it requires to repair.

If your air conditioner was installed prior to 2010, there’s a high probability it runs on R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being manufactured due to its damaging effects on the ozone layer. As a consequence, repairs can be significantly expensive so it may be smartest to consider air conditioning installation in this instance.

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

How You Can Solve It

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

  • Shutting off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Evacuating your home right away.
  • Call your gas company without delay.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Individuals who call us regarding this issue frequently 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 typically 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 need heating at night and during the morning before transitioning to cooling during the afternoon.

How to Repair It

The best method for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to frequently get a new air filter and schedule annual air conditioning maintenance with Stephen Hurst Pack Heating and Cooling, Inc. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system flowing, because stagnant water can also lead to unpleasant odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are living with air conditioner mildew smell or a pungent, vinegar-like odor, it might be caused by several situations, such as:

  • A filthy filter
  • Excess condensation
  • Clogged 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, you should replace it. If that doesn’t fix the problem, contact Stephen Hurst Pack Heating and Cooling, Inc at 740-474-5940.

5. Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If you’re noticing an air conditioner burning smell or that your air conditioner smells like fish, there could be a couple of things wrong. These include:

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

Electrical malfunctions should be checked quickly to prevent a fire. If you notice burning plastic when your air conditioner is running, switch it off and reach us at 740-474-5940 right away.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

An overpowering ammonia odor means there might be mold spreading within your air conditioner or ductwork. The smell isn’t the mold itself, but the mycotoxins that mold produces.

How to Repair It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your health. That’s why we recommend having a professional like Stephen Hurst Pack Heating and Cooling, Inc check your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when needed.

Our Pros Can Take Care of Strange Air Conditioner Smells Quickly

You deserve to be cozy in your house and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you need relief from your noxious air conditioner, contact us at 740-474-5940. We’ll diagnose the problem quickly and take care of it at a competitive.