When your air conditioner starts spewing weird or unappealing aromas, it is important to take notice because it could be a sign of a major problem. Dismissing unpleasant smells coming from your cooling system can lead to additional damage to your AC or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on what you're smelling, the cause might be bacteria or fungus in the system. In other cases, it could also indicate something mechanically wrong with the AC. Some smells are a warning of a harmful situation, like a natural gas leak.

At Stephen Hurst Pack Heating and Cooling, we are experienced at getting to the root cause of stinky smells. If you smell something peculiar coming from your air conditioner, chances are our team of skilled professionals has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned our reputation as the first call for air conditioning repair in Circleville.

What does a particular smell coming out of your air conditioning mean? Here are some common air conditioner odors and what they may mean:

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it could be caused by a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the unit. When moisture accumulates inside the unit, it can create an environment that is beneficial to the development of bacteria and fungus. This can cause a bad odor that is often described as smelling like feet.

Another potential cause of the smell may be a dirty air filter. When the air filter becomes choked with dirt, dust and other particles, it can result in low air quality and a musty smell that it similar to the smell of feet.

To solve this issue, it's important to have a professional 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 on a regular basis to ensure good air quality and prevent the formation of bacteria and fungus.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioner reeks of rotten eggs, it could be caused by a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a unique 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 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, get everyone out of 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 may be due to a collection of moisture inside the unit. When moisture forms inside a cooling system, it can foster the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty odor that it similar to mildew.

Another possible cause of the smell might be a soiled air filter. If the air filter becomes clogged, it can cause poor air quality and a musty smell that resembles mildew.

Routine air conditioning maintenance from Stephen Hurst Pack Heating and Cooling can help prevent both of these situations, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a terrific way to keep your system operating at its best!

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine

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

If your air conditioner stinks like urine, it could could be caused by multiple factors. One possible cause is a collection of bacteria or mold in the your cooling system. This can happen if moisture accumulates in the system and creates a damp environment that is conducive to bacterial growth. The bacteria can produce a foul odor that it similar to urine.

Another feasible cause of the scent of urine could be a clogged drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away effectively, but if the drain line becomes stopped up by debris, it can cause water to back up and build up inside the unit. This can generate a musty smell that can stink like urine.

Your AC Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your air conditioning unit smells like burning plastic, it might be because of an electrical problem with the unit. After some time, the electrical elements in the air conditioning system can wear out or bust, which can create 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 stuck in the air conditioning system, it can heat up and emit a smell like burning plastic.

If you notice something that smells like burning plastic coming from your air conditioner, it’s essential 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 the surrounding area. Natural gas has a distinct aroma, often described as smelling of rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because this scent is added to natural gas so that it is easily detectable.

As stated previously, 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, get everyone out of the building and phone your gas company or emergency services as soon as possible.

Your AC Smells Like Fish

If your AC smell like fish, it could be due to a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture produces an environment that is conducive to the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a strong odor that can be 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 inside 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 fix the issue, it's often necessary to have a professional examine and clean your cooling system. They can determine the source of the smell and take the proper steps to remove any contaminants and keep the problem from recurring.

Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

There could be several reasons a home's AC smells like vinegar. One possible cause of the smell could be a plugged air filter. One other likely cause of the smell may be a refrigerant leak. Sometimes after the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that is described as smelling of 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 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, Stephen Hurst Pack Heating and Cooling can help locate the ideal unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer trustworthy, professional air conditioner installation in Circleville.

Your AC Smells Like Chemicals

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

Another possible source of the smell could be a problem with the electrical wiring or parts inside the air conditioning system. This can produce a burning smell that it similar to chemicals or burning plastic.

If you suspect a refrigerant leak or an electrical problem, it's important to shut off your air conditioning system immediately and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be harmful and may require immediate attention to prevent injury or damage to your home.

A Nasty Odor Coming from the Air Conditioning? Contact the Experts at Stephen Hurst Pack Heating and Cooling

If your air conditioner reeks and you aren’t able to fix it simply on your own, call the cooling experts at Stephen Hurst Pack Heating and Cooling. We have years of experience working with a wide variety of AC systems. Our crew has fixed countless air conditioning concerns over the years—including weird smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Circleville!