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

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is fresh and working properly, it’s expected you won’t be smelling anything weird. Peculiar air conditioner noises and weird smells are a hint that something is out of whack. If your air conditioner is aging or you haven’t had maintenance done lately, they can be a sure sign you need skilled air conditioning repair in Branchville.

Here are six of the most common air conditioner smells and how you can fix 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 might also report your:

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

These sweet, chemical scents are regularly a clue that your air conditioner is suffering from a refrigerant leak. Your system relies on this gas to transfer heat through copper coils, which can crack as time passes.

4 Hints You Have a Refrigerant Leak

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

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

How You Can Fix It

A refrigerant leak needs skilled repairs from a heating and cooling company like Willco Air Conditioning, Refrigeration & Heating Inc.. Your cooling technician will pinpoint and repair the leak before recharging your AC with refrigerant.

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

If your air conditioner was installed before 2010, there’s a high probability it runs on R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being made as a result of its damaging effects on the ozone layer. Consequently, repairs can be extremely expensive so it may be best to schedule air conditioning installation in this instance.

2. Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, there’s possibly nothing wrong with it. But there’s a good probability you have a natural gas leak in your residence. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to alert you when there’s a leak, because the gas can be toxic in big amounts.

How You Can Solve It

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

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

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

People who contact us about this issue frequently report 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 typically caused by a dirty 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 often seen in climates where you turn on heating at night and during the morning before transitioning to cooling later on.

How to Solve It

The best way to prevent dirty sock syndrome is to frequently replace your air filter and schedule annual air conditioning maintenance with Willco Air Conditioning, Refrigeration & Heating Inc.. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unclogged, since standing water can also create nasty odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are dealing with air conditioner mildew smell or a pungent, vinegar-like odor, it might be caused by several issues, like:

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

How to Resolve It

Examine your filter first. If you haven’t put in a new one within the last three months and can’t see light through it, it’s time to replace it. If that doesn’t fix the issue, call Willco Air Conditioning, Refrigeration & Heating Inc. at 862-345-6896.

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 couple of things wrong. These involve:

  • Broken capacitator that’s overheating the motor.
  • Motor that should have lubrication.
  • Broken fan belt.
  • Electrical issue.

Electrical problems should be checked immediately to prevent a fire. If you smell burning plastic when your air conditioner is running, turn it off and reach us at 862-345-6896 immediately.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

A powerful ammonia odor means there might be mold flourishing in your air conditioner or ductwork. The smell isn’t the mold itself, but the mycotoxins that mold makes.

How to Repair It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your well-being. That’s why you should have a specialist like Willco Air Conditioning, Refrigeration & Heating Inc. check your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when necessary.

Our Pros Can Take Care of Unpleasant Air Conditioner Smells Quickly

You deserve to be comfortable in your home and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are looking for relief from your smelly air conditioner, contact us at 862-345-6896. We’ll diagnose the problem quickly and take care of it at a fair price.