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

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is clean and working correctly, it’s not normal to be smelling anything strange. Unexpected air conditioner noises and weird smells are a sign that something is out of whack. If your air conditioner is getting older or you haven’t had a tune-up completed lately, they can be a clear sign you need skilled air conditioning repair in Lawrence.

Here are six of the most common air conditioner smells and how you can solve them.

1. Central Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If your air conditioner smells bad when turned on, specifically a chemical scent, isn’t a good sign. You might also notice your:

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

These sweet, chemical odors are typically a clue that your air conditioner has a refrigerant leak. Your system needs this gas to move heat through copper coils, which can wear out as time passes.

4 Clues You Are Experiencing a Refrigerant Leak

In addition to 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. Frost on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. Difficulty keeping your home cool or having your desired temperature.
  4. Increasing utility bills.

How You Can Repair It

A refrigerant leak needs experienced support from a heating and cooling company like Scott Temperature. Your cooling specialist will find and repair the leak before recharging your AC with refrigerant.

Resolving a refrigerant leak usually 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 many hours it needs to solve.

If your air conditioner was installed prior to 2010, there’s a high probability it has R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being produced due to its damaging effects on the ozone layer. Because of 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 possibly nothing wrong with it. But there’s a good chance you have a natural gas leak in your house. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to warn you when there’s a leak, as the gas can be toxic in big amounts.

How You Can Solve It

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

  • Shutting off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Going outside as soon as possible.
  • Getting in touch with your gas company now.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Individuals who call us to report this situation often say their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it’s on. Also called dirty sock syndrome, this smell is typically linked to 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 common in climates where you need heating at night and during the morning before transitioning to cooling during the afternoon.

How to Solve It

The best method for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to routinely replace your air filter and schedule yearly air conditioning maintenance with Scott Temperature. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system flowing, since standing water can also result in noxious odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

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

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

How to Fix It

Inspect your filter first. If you haven’t replaced it within the last three months and can’t see light through it, we recommend replacing it. If that doesn’t solve the issue, contact Scott Temperature at 785-269-0465.

5. Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If you’re dealing with 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 trouble.

Electrical issues should be inspected right away to avoid a fire. If you notice burning plastic when your air conditioner is running, shut it off and contact us at 785-269-0465 without delay.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

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

How to Fix It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your health. That’s why we recommend having a specialist like Scott Temperature check your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when recommended.

Our Specialists Can Take Care of Unpleasant Air Conditioner Smells Fast

You deserve to be comfy in your home and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are looking for relief from your noxious air conditioner, reach us at 785-269-0465. We’ll figure out the issue quickly and resolve it at a reasonable.