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

Depending on the cause of the odor, the cause may be bacteria or fungus in the system. Other times, it could also signal something mechanically wrong with the air conditioning system. Some smells are a warning of a harmful problem, including a natural gas leak.

At Home Comfort Heating & Air, we have a nose for these sorts of things. If you smell something peculiar coming from your air conditioner, you can bet that our team of skilled specialists has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned our reputation as the go-to team for air conditioning repair in Elk River.

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

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet

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

Another likely reason for the smell might be a dirty air filter. When your HVAC system's air filter becomes filled with dirt, dust and other contaminants, it can cause substandard air quality and a musty smell that it similar to the smell of feet.

To correct this dilemma, 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 provide good air quality and restrict the development of bacteria and fungus.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioner stinks like rotten eggs, it may 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 added to it to make it easily detectable.

A natural gas leak is a situation that 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 allow gas to escape 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 AC smells like mildew, it could be due to a accumulation 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 reason for the smell could be a dirty air filter. When the air filter becomes clogged, it can lead to poor air quality and a musty smell that is similar to mildew.

Annual air conditioning maintenance from Home Comfort Heating & Air can help prevent both of these issues, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a great way to keep your system running at its best!

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine

One of the most distressing things is when your AC smells like urine.

If your air conditioning smells like urine, it could could be caused by multiple factors. One potential cause is a accumulation of bacteria or mold in the your HVAC. This can happen in the event that moisture accumulates in the system and creates a moist environment that favorable for bacterial growth. The bacteria can create a foul odor that some people describe as smelling like urine.

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

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

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

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

If you notice something that smells like burning plastic coming from your AC unit, it’s essential to contact a professional right away.

My Air Conditioner 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 distinctive smell, often described as smelling similar to rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because a smell is put into natural gas to make sure that it is easily detectable.

As stated previously, a natural gas leak can be VERY dangerous and requires immediate attention. Should 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 as soon as possible.

Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish

When your AC 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 is conducive to the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a disgusting odor that is often described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can create a smell like dirty feet.

Another plausible explanation for the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material caught 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 important to have a professional examine and clean your cooling system. They will be able to identify the source of the smell and take the proper steps to remove any contaminants and prevent the problem from recurring.

Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

There could be several reasons an air conditioner smells like vinegar. One possible cause of the smell could be a clogged air filter. One other potential cause of the smell may be a refrigerant leak. Sometimes after the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that resembles vinegar.

To fix the issue, it's important to have a skilled tech look at and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor continues after the cleaning and changing of the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to identify and repair any underlying issues with your air conditioning. Or, they can tell you if your air conditioning should be replaced.

If you are looking to upgrade, Home Comfort Heating & Air can help find the correct unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer trustworthy, expert air conditioner installation in Elk River.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is emitting out of your air conditioning equipment, it could be caused by 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 cause of the smell could be an issue with the electrical wiring or elements inside the air conditioning system. This can produce a burning smell that resembles chemicals or burning plastic.

If you think your system has a refrigerant leak or an electrical issue, 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 dangerous and may require immediate attention to protect against injury or damage to your house.

Strange Smell Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at Home Comfort Heating & Air

If your air conditioner reeks and you aren’t able to fix it easily on your own, contact the cooling professionals at Home Comfort Heating & Air. We have years of experience working with a wide variety of HVAC systems. Our crew has fixed countless air conditioning concerns over the years—including funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Elk River!