6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Answered and How to Solve the Problem

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is clean and running right, you shouldn’t be smelling anything weird. Unusual air conditioner noises and weird smells are a sign that something is up. If your air conditioner is past its prime or you haven’t had service scheduled within the last year, they can be an obvious sign you need skilled air conditioning repair in Elk River.

Here are six of the top 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, specifically a chemical smell, isn’t a good sign. You may also report your:

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

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

4 Hints You Have a Refrigerant Leak

Aside from the weird smell, here are four other clues that you have a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner is operating.
  2. Ice crystals on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. It’s hard keeping your house comfortable or reaching your desired temperature.
  4. Increasing utility bills.

How You Can Repair It

A refrigerant leak needs skilled assistance from a heating and cooling company like Home Comfort Heating & Air. Your cooling pro will pinpoint and fix the leak before recharging your system with refrigerant.

Resolving a refrigerant leak usually 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 long it requires to solve.

If your air conditioner was installed prior to 2010, there’s a good chance it runs on R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being produced because of its damaging effects on the ozone layer. Consequently, repairs can be very expensive so it may be wisest to do air conditioning installation in this circumstance.

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 good 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, as the gas can be toxic in big amounts.

How You Can Repair It

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

  • Shutting off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Going outside right away.
  • Call your gas company now.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Individuals who call us to report this problem often say their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it’s on. Also referred to as dirty sock syndrome, this smell is often caused by a grubby evaporator coil that has mold, mildew and bacteria buildup. Excess water can also make your home air conditioner smell bad. Dirty sock syndrome is most common in areas where you use heating at night and during the morning before switching to cooling during the afternoon.

How to Solve It

The best way to prevent dirty sock syndrome is to regularly get a new air filter and schedule annual air conditioning maintenance with Home Comfort Heating & Air. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unclogged, as excess water can also result in noxious odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are dealing with air conditioner mildew smell or an acidic, vinegar-like odor, it can be the result of several issues, such as:

  • A dirty filter
  • Extra condensation
  • Plugged condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Solve It

Check your filter first. If you haven’t replaced it within the last three months and can’t see light through it, it’s time to replace it. If that doesn’t resolve the smell, contact Home Comfort Heating & Air at 763-276-0617.

5. Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

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

  • Broken capacitator that’s overheating the motor.
  • Motor that requires lubrication.
  • Broken fan belt.
  • Electrical problem.

Electrical problems should be checked right away to stop a fire. If you notice burning plastic when your air conditioner is on, switch it off and call us at 763-276-0617 right away.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

A strong ammonia odor means there may be mold present in your air conditioner or ductwork. The smell isn’t the mold itself, but the mycotoxins that mold produces.

How to Fix It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your health. That’s why we recommend having a professional like Home Comfort Heating & Air check your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when needed.

Our Specialists Can Take Care of Unpleasant Air Conditioner Smells Fast

You deserve to be comfortable in your residence and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you need relief from your noxious air conditioner, reach us at 763-276-0617. We’ll determine the trouble quickly and take care of it at a reasonable.