When your air conditioner starts putting out odd or unappealing odors, it is a good idea to take notice because it could be a sign of a significant problem. Disregarding unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioning can lead to serious damage to your air conditioning or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on the smell, the cause may be bacteria or fungus in the system. In other cases, it could also sign something mechanically wrong with the AC. Some smells are even indicative of a dangerous situation, like a natural gas leak.

At Home Comfort Heating & Air, we have a nose for these sorts of things. If you smell something weird coming from your air conditioner, there’s a good chance our team of talented pros has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned a reputation as the go-to team for air conditioning repair in Elk River.

What does a particular smell coming coming from your AC mean? Here are some frequent air conditioner aromas and what they could mean:

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it can be because of a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the unit. When moisture builds inside the unit, it can create an environment that is favorable to the growth of bacteria and fungus. This can result in a bad odor that is often described as smelling like feet.

Another possible reason for an odor of stinky feet may be a dirty air filter. When your HVAC system’s air filter becomes clogged with dirt, dust and other particles, it can result in poor air quality and a musty smell that bears a resemblance to feet.

To solve this issue, it’s important to have an experienced specialist 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 on a regular basis to ensure good air quality and protect against the growth of bacteria and fungus.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, it could be because of a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a recognizable odor, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur, that 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 air out 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 air conditioner is giving off an odor like mildew, it may be due to a collection of moisture inside the unit. When moisture accumulates inside the air conditioning system, it can foster the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty odor that resembles mildew.

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

Annual air conditioning maintenance from Home Comfort Heating & Air can help protect against both of these problems, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a terrific way to keep your system operating at its best!

Your AC Smells Like Urine

One of the most undesirable things is when an air conditioner smells like urine.

If your air conditioning smells like urine, it could be traced back to a number of things. One potential cause is a buildup of bacteria or mold in the your cooling system. This can happen in the event that moisture accumulates in the system and creates a wet environment that can promote bacterial growth. The bacteria can emit a foul odor that some people describe as smelling like urine.

Another potential cause of the stink could be a blocked drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away properly, but if the drain line becomes clogged with debris, it can cause water to back up and build up inside the unit. This can create a musty smell that resembles urine.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your air conditioning unit smells like burning plastic, this could indicate an electrical concern with the unit. Over time, the electrical elements in the air conditioning system can wear out or break, which can make a burning smell that resembles plastic.

Another possible cause of the smell could be a foreign object that somehow got in the HVAC system. If something foreign gets caught in the air conditioning system, it can heat up and emit a smell that reminds people of burning plastic.

If you think you smell burning plastic coming from your AC unit, it’s worthwhile to contact 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 your home. Natural gas has a distinct smell, often described as smelling of rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because a smell is added to natural gas to make sure that it is easily detectable.

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

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish

If your air conditioner smell like fish, you may have a situation where there’s a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture produces an environment that fosters the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a foul 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 in 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 correct the issue, it’s important to have a professional examine and clean your air conditioning system. They can determine the source of the smell and take the appropriate steps to remove any contaminants and keep the problem from recurring.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

There could be several reasons your AC smells like vinegar. One possible cause of the smell could be a dirty air filter. A second potential cause of the smell might be a refrigerant leak. If 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 lingers after the cleaning and exchanging the air filter, it’s best to reach back out to a professional to identify and repair any persistent issues with your air conditioning. Or, the mechanic can tell you if your air conditioning should be replaced.

If you are wanting to upgrade, Home Comfort Heating & Air can help locate the right unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer trustworthy, professional air conditioner installation in Elk River.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

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

One other possible reason for the smell could be problems with the electrical wiring or hardware inside the air conditioning system. This can cause a burning smell that resembles chemicals or burning plastic.

If you suspect a refrigerant leak or an electrical problem, it’s important to shut down your air conditioning system right away and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be harmful and may require immediate attention to protect against injury or damage to your house.

A Nasty Odor Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at Home Comfort Heating & Air

If your air conditioner stinks and you aren’t able to fix it simply on your own, reach out to the cooling experts at Home Comfort Heating & Air. We have plenty of experience working with a wide variety of cooling systems. Our crew has fixed a multitude of air conditioning problems over the years—including weird smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Elk River!