6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Answered and How to Fix the Problem

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is spotless and operating properly, it’s expected you won’t be smelling anything weird. Peculiar air conditioner noises and odd smells are a hint that something is wrong. If your air conditioner is getting older or you haven’t had service completed lately, they can be a clear sign you need skilled air conditioning repair in Mount Pleasant.

Here are six of the top 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, particularly a chemical smell, isn’t a good sign. You may also observe your:

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

These sweet, chemical smells are typically a clue that your air conditioner has a refrigerant leak. Your system relies on this gas to shift heat through copper coils, which can break out over time.

4 Hints You Are Experiencing a Refrigerant Leak

Besides the strange 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 residence cool or reaching your programmed temperature.
  4. Higher electrical costs.

How You Can Take Care of It

A refrigerant leak needs experienced assistance from a heating and cooling company like Olde Towne Heating & Air. Your cooling specialist will locate and mend the leak before recharging your AC with refrigerant.

Fixing a refrigerant leak often costs between $225 and $1,600, per nationwide averages put together 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 before 2010, there’s a high probability it uses R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being produced due to its adverse effects on the ozone layer. Due to this, repairs can be significantly expensive so it may be best 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 likelihood you have a natural gas leak in your residence. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to warn you when there’s a leak, because the gas can be toxic in big amounts.

How You Can Fix It

If you notice a sulfur or rotten egg odor, we recommend:

  • Switching off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Going outside right away.
  • Contacting your gas company immediately.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Individuals who contact us about this situation usually say their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it runs. Also called dirty sock syndrome, this smell is usually caused by a grubby evaporator coil that has mold, mildew and bacteria buildup. Condensation can also make your home air conditioner smell bad. Dirty sock syndrome is most often seen in climates where you need heating at night and during the morning before turning on cooling later on.

How to Solve It

The best method for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to frequently get a new air filter and schedule yearly air conditioning maintenance with Olde Towne Heating & Air. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system flowing, since excess water can also produce unpleasant odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are living with air conditioner mildew smell or a strong, vinegar-like odor, it could be caused by several issues, like:

  • A clogged filter
  • Excess condensation
  • Blocked condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Repair 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, you should replace it. If that doesn’t resolve the problem, contact Olde Towne Heating & Air at 843-485-0967.

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 several things wrong. These involve:

  • Broken capacitator that’s overheating the motor.
  • Motor that requires lubrication.
  • Broken fan belt.
  • Electrical malfunctions.

Electrical issues should be inspected right away to stop a fire. If you detect burning plastic when your air conditioner is on, shut it off and contact us at 843-485-0967 without delay.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

An overpowering ammonia odor means there could be mold flourishing within your air conditioner or ductwork. The smell isn’t the mold itself, but the mycotoxins that mold produces.

How to Solve It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your health. That’s why you should have a specialist like Olde Towne Heating & Air look at your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when needed.

Our Professionals Can Eliminate Weird Air Conditioner Smells Quickly

You deserve to be comfortable in your house and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you need relief from your noxious air conditioner, give us a call at 843-485-0967. We’ll determine the issue quickly and take care of it at a reasonable.