When your air conditioner starts putting out weird or gross aromas, it is a good idea to take notice because it could be a sign of a significant problem. Ignoring unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioner may lead to further damage to your air conditioning or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on the cause of the odor, the cause could be bacteria or fungus in the system. Other times, it could also sign something mechanically wrong with the AC. Some smells are a sign of a hazardous situation, such as a natural gas leak.

At Scott Temperature, we are skilled at diagnosing and fixing these type of problems. If you smell something peculiar coming from your air conditioner, chances are our team of qualified professionals has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned the reputation as the premier company for air conditioning repair in Lawrence.

What does a particular smell wafting out of your cooling system mean? Here are several frequent air conditioner aromas and what they could 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 builds inside the unit, it can produce 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 dirty feet.

Another likely cause of the stench of dirty feet might be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes clogged with dirt, dust and other particles, it can result in poor air quality and a musty smell that resembles feet.

To solve this issue, it's important to have a quality service tech inspect and clean your air conditioning system, including the evaporator coil, drain pan and condensate drain line. It's also important to change the air filter regularly to promote good air quality and protect against the development of bacteria and fungus.

Your AC Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioning equipment smells like rotten eggs, it might be the result of a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a distinctive 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 very dangerous and requires immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, immediately open windows and doors to ventilate the area, evacuate the building and call your gas company or emergency services immediately.

Your AC Smells Like Mildew

If your air conditioner is giving off an odor like mildew, it might be due to a accumulation of moisture inside the unit. When moisture forms inside an air conditioner, it can foster the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty odor that bears a resemblance to mildew.

Another possible explanation for the smell might be a soiled air filter. Once the air filter becomes clogged, it can cause poor air quality and a musty smell that resembles mildew.

Regular air conditioning maintenance from Scott Temperature can help protect against both of these issues, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a terrific way to keep your system operating at its best!

Your AC Smells Like Urine

One of the most undesirable scenarios is when the air coming out of your HVAC system smells like urine.

If your air conditioner reeks of urine, it could could be caused by multiple factors. One possible cause is a accumulation of bacteria or mold in the your cooling system. This can happen if moisture accumulates in the system and creates a wet environment that can promote bacterial growth. The bacteria can emit a foul odor that it similar to urine.

Another possible cause of the smell 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 stopped up by debris, it can cause water to back up and collect inside the unit. This can produce a musty smell that resembles urine.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your AC smells like burning plastic, a possible cause could be an electrical issue with the unit. After a while, the electrical components in the air conditioning system can wear out or break, which can make a burning smell that resembles plastic.

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

If you smell burning plastic coming from your AC unit, it’s worthwhile to call a professional right away.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioning smells like gas, it could be because of a natural gas leak in the unit or in your home. Natural gas has a recognizable smell, often described as smelling of rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because an odor is put 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. When you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, open windows and doors to air out the home, evacuate the building and phone your gas company or emergency services right away.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Fish

If your AC smell like fish, it could be due to a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture produces an environment that fosters the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a strong odor that is sometimes described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can cause a smell like dirty feet.

Another possible cause of the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material trapped 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 check out and clean your HVAC system. They should be able to find the source of the smell and take the correct steps to remove any contaminants and stop the problem from recurring.

Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

There could be multiple reasons a home's AC smells like vinegar. One possible cause might be a dirty air filter. Another likely cause of the smell may be a refrigerant leak. If the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that resembles vinegar.

To fix the issue, it's important to have a skilled specialist inspect 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 identify and repair any underlying issues with your air conditioning. Or, they can tell you if your air conditioning ought to be replaced.

If you are wanting to upgrade, Scott Temperature can help select the correct unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer reliable, skilled air conditioner installation in Lawrence.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is coming from your air conditioner, it could be caused by a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical aroma that people sometimes describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.

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

If you think your system has a refrigerant leak or an electrical concern, it's important to shut off your air conditioning system immediately and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be harmful and may require immediate attention to prevent injury or damage to your house.

Strange Smell Coming from Your AC? Contact the Experts at Scott Temperature

If your air conditioner stinks and you aren’t able to fix it quickly on your own, contact the cooling experts at Scott Temperature. We have plenty of experience working with a wide variety of AC systems. Our crew has fixed many air conditioning problems through the years—including strange smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Lawrence!