When your air conditioner starts spewing odd or gross aromas, it is a good idea to take notice because it could be a sign of a big problem. Dismissing unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioning could lead to further damage to your AC or even pose a risk to your health and safety.
Depending on the smell, the culprit may be bacteria or fungus in the system. On the other hand, it could also indicate something mechanically wrong with the air conditioner. Some smells are a warning of a hazardous scenario, including a natural gas leak.
At Kilbourne Heating & AC, we are skilled at diagnosing and fixing these type of problems. If you smell something odd coming from your cooling system, you can bet that our team of qualified professionals has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned a reputation as the go-to team for air conditioning repair in Delray Beach.
What does a certain smell coming coming from your cooling system mean? Here are some common air conditioner aromas and what they might mean:
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet
If your air conditioner smells like feet, it could be due to a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the unit. When moisture collects inside the unit, it can create an environment that is conducive to the growth of bacteria and fungus. This can produce a bad odor that is often described as smelling like stinky feet.
Another potential cause of an odor of stinky feet may be a dirty air filter. When your HVAC system's air filter becomes choked with dirt, dust and other contaminants, it can cause low air quality and a musty smell that it similar to the smell of feet.
To correct 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 replace the air filter on a regular basis to ensure good air quality and prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs
If your air conditioning unit smells like rotten eggs, it might be due to a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a distinct odor, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur, which is added to it to make it easily detectable.
A natural gas leak can be 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, evacuate the building and call your gas company or emergency services immediately.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew
If your cooling system emits a smell like mildew, it could be due to a collection of moisture inside the unit. When moisture collects inside a cooling system, it can cultivate the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty smell that bears a resemblance to mildew.
Another possible cause of the smell could be a dirty air filter. When the air filter becomes clogged, it can cause poor air quality and a musty smell that has a resemblance to mildew.
Regular air conditioning maintenance from Kilbourne Heating & AC can help protect against both of these problems, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a very good way to keep your system running at its best!
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine
One of the most undesirable situations is when an air conditioner smells like urine.
If your air conditioner reeks of urine, it could be due to a variety of factors. One potential cause is a collection of bacteria or mold in the air conditioning system. This can happen in the event that moisture accumulates in the system and creates a damp environment that is conducive to bacterial growth. The bacteria can emit a foul odor that some people describe as smelling like urine.
Another feasible cause of the scent of urine 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 produce a musty smell that is sometimes described as smelling of urine.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic
If your AC smells like burning plastic, this could indicate an electrical problem 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 root cause of the smell could be a foreign object lodged in the HVAC system. If something foreign gets stuck in the air conditioning system, it can become hot and cause a smell that reminds people of burning plastic.
If you smell 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 conditioning smells like gas, it could be due to a natural gas leak in the unit or in another part of your home. Natural gas has a recognizable odor, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because this scent is added to natural gas to make sure that it is easily detectable.
As stated before, a natural gas leak can be VERY hazardous 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, leave the building and call your gas company or emergency services as soon as possible.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish
When your air conditioning equipment smell like fish, this could be a sign of a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture causes 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 result in a smell like dirty feet.
Another plausible explanation for the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material trapped in the air conditioning system. This often is possible if an animal such as a mouse or bird becomes trapped inside the unit and dies.
To fix the issue, it's important to have a professional check out and clean your HVAC system. They will be able to determine the source of the smell and take the correct steps to remove any contaminants and keep the problem from recurring.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar
There could be numerous reasons an air conditioning system smells like vinegar. One possible cause of the smell could be a clogged air filter. A second possible cause of the smell might be a refrigerant leak. Sometimes after the refrigerant leaks, it can generate a chemical odor that is similar to vinegar.
To fix the issue, it's essential to have a skilled tech examine and clean your air conditioning. If the odor continues after the cleaning and replacing of the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to diagnose and repair any persistent issues with your air conditioning. Or, they can tell you if your air conditioning needs to be replaced.
If you are looking to upgrade, Kilbourne Heating & AC can help find the ideal unit to fit your home’s needs. We deliver trustworthy, skilled air conditioner installation in Delray Beach.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals
If the smell of chemicals is emitting out of your air conditioning unit, it could be the result of 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.
One other possible source of the smell could be something wrong with the electrical wiring or elements inside the air conditioning system. This can produce a burning smell that is like chemicals or burning plastic.
If you think your system has a refrigerant leak or an electrical issue, it's important to turn 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 avoid injury or damage to your house.
Strange Smell Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at Kilbourne Heating & AC
If your air conditioner smells nasty and you aren’t able to fix it simply on your own, reach out to the cooling professionals at Kilbourne Heating & AC. We have years of experience working with a wide variety of cooling systems. Our crew has fixed countless air conditioning troubles over the years—including strange smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Delray Beach!