When your air conditioner starts emitting weird or unappealing odors, it is necessary to take notice because it could be a sign of a significant problem. Dismissing unpleasant smells coming from your cooling system could lead to additional damage to your AC or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on the cause of the odor, the root of the problem might be bacteria or fungus in the system. In other cases, it could also signal something mechanically wrong with the air conditioning system. Some smells are even indicative of a hazardous problem, like a natural gas leak.

At West Jefferson Plumbing and Heating, Inc., we have a nose for these sorts of things. If you smell something peculiar coming from your AC, you can bet that our team of talented specialists has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned a reputation as the first call for air conditioning repair in West Jefferson.

What does a particular smell billowing out of your AC mean? Here are several typical air conditioner odors and what they could mean:

Your AC 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 accumulates inside the unit, it can produce an environment that is conducive to the development of bacteria and fungus. This can produce a nasty odor that is often described as smelling like stinky feet.

Another likely reason for an odor of stinky feet may be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes choked with dirt, dust and other debris, it can result in low air quality and a musty smell that resembles feet.

To solve 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 exchange the air filter on a regular basis to promote good air quality and restrict the growth of bacteria and fungus.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your smells like rotten eggs, it could be due to 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 very 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, make everyone leave the building and call your gas company or emergency services immediately.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Mildew

If your cooling system smells like mildew, it might be due to a buildup of moisture inside the unit. When moisture collects inside the air conditioning system, it can cultivate the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty stench that it similar to mildew.

Another possible cause of the smell could be a clogged air filter. If the air filter becomes clogged, it can lead to poor air quality and a musty smell that is similar to mildew.

Routine air conditioning maintenance from West Jefferson Plumbing and Heating, Inc. can help prevent both of these issues, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a very good way to keep your system operating at its best!

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Urine

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

If your air conditioning equipment reeks of urine, it could be traced back to a number of things. One likely cause is a collection of bacteria or mold in the your HVAC. This can happen in the event that moisture accumulates in the system and creates a damp 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 effectively, but if the drain line becomes choked with debris, it can cause water to back up and build up inside the unit. This can create a musty smell that can stink like urine.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your air conditioning system smells like burning plastic, it might be because of an electrical issue with the unit. After some time, the electrical elements in the air conditioning system can wear out or malfunction, which can produce a burning smell that resembles plastic.

Another possible reason for the smell could be a foreign object lodged in the the air conditioner. If something foreign gets caught in the air conditioning system, it can get hot and cause a smell similar to burning plastic.

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

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Gas

If your AC smells like gas, there could be 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’s because this scent is incorporated into natural gas so that it is easily detectable.

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

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish

Should 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 causes an environment that is conducive to the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a disgusting odor that can be described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can create a smell like dirty feet.

Another potential cause of the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material caught inside the air conditioning system. This often can happen if an animal such as a mouse or bird gets trapped inside the unit and dies.

To fix the issue, it's worthwhile to have a professional inspect and clean your cooling system. They can find the source of the smell and take the correct steps to remove any contaminants and prevent the problem from recurring.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

There could be numerous reasons your air conditioner smells like vinegar. One possible cause is a dirty air filter. Another likely cause of the smell could 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 beneficial to have a skilled specialist look at and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor persists after the cleaning and changing of the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to find and repair any underlying issues with your air conditioning. Or, they can tell you if your air conditioning should be replaced.

If you are planning to upgrade, West Jefferson Plumbing and Heating, Inc. can help locate the ideal unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer dependable, professional air conditioner installation in West Jefferson.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is emitting out of your air conditioner, it could be due to a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical scent that is often described as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.

An additional possible source of the smell could be problems with the electrical wiring or hardware inside the air conditioning system. This can result in a burning smell that is like chemicals or burning plastic.

If you believe there is a refrigerant leak or an electrical problem, 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 hazardous 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 West Jefferson Plumbing and Heating, Inc.

If your air conditioner stinks and you aren’t able to fix it smoothly on your own, reach out to the cooling experts at West Jefferson Plumbing and Heating, Inc.. We have plenty of experience working with a wide variety of HVAC systems. Our crew has fixed many air conditioning troubles through the years—including funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in West Jefferson!