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

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is fresh and operating properly, it’s expected you won’t be smelling anything strange. Unusual air conditioner noises and odd smells are a sign that something is off. If your air conditioner is old or you haven’t had service done recently, they can be an obvious sign you need pro air conditioning repair in West Jefferson.

Here are six of the most frequent 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, specifically a chemical scent, isn’t a positive sign. You may also report your:

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

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

4 Hints You Have a Refrigerant Leak

Besides the weird smell, here are four other signs that you have a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner is cooling.
  2. Ice crystals on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. It’s hard keeping your house cold or achieving your programmed temperature.
  4. High energy costs.

How You Can Repair It

A refrigerant leak requires experienced assistance from a heating and cooling company like West Jefferson Plumbing and Heating, Inc.. Your cooling specialist will pinpoint and mend the leak before recharging your system with refrigerant.

Resolving a refrigerant leak often costs between $225 and $1,600, based on nationwide averages assembled by HomeAdvisor. Your total cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how long it takes to solve.

If your air conditioner was installed prior to 2010, it’s likely it uses R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being manufactured as a result of its adverse effects on the ozone layer. As a consequence, repairs can be extremely expensive so it may be smartest to do air conditioning installation in this situation.

2. Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, there’s probably nothing wrong with it. But there’s a high chance you have a natural gas leak in your home. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to signal you when there’s a leak, because the gas can be toxic in big amounts.

How You Can Fix It

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

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

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Homeowners who reach us regarding this issue usually share their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it’s running. Also known as dirty sock syndrome, this smell is often created 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 locations where you use heating at night and during the morning before switching to cooling during the afternoon.

How to Repair It

The best way to prevent dirty sock syndrome is to regularly change your air filter and schedule annual air conditioning maintenance with West Jefferson Plumbing and Heating, Inc.. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system flowing, since standing water can also result in unpleasant odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are experiencing air conditioner mildew smell or an acidic, vinegar-like odor, it might be prompted by several situations, including:

  • A filthy filter
  • Extra condensation
  • Blocked condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Fix It

Inspect 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 smell, reach West Jefferson Plumbing and Heating, Inc. at 614-450-1575.

5. Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If you’re noticing 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 immediately to prevent a fire. If you notice burning plastic when your air conditioner is on, switch it off and call us at 614-450-1575 right away.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

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

How to Solve It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your well-being. That’s why we recommend having a pro like West Jefferson Plumbing and Heating, Inc. examine your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when necessary.

Our Pros Can Get Rid of Strange Air Conditioner Smells Quickly

You deserve to be comfy in your home and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are seeking relief from your stinky air conditioner, contact us at 614-450-1575. We’ll figure out the trouble quickly and resolve it at a reasonable.