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

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is spotless and operating properly, you shouldn’t be smelling anything odd. Unusual air conditioner noises and odd smells are a sign that something is off. If your air conditioner is aging or you haven’t had service done recently, they can be an obvious sign you need professional air conditioning repair in Keokuk.

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 odor, isn’t a great sign. You might also report your:

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

These sweet, chemical odors are typically a sign that your air conditioner is experiencing a refrigerant leak. Your system uses this gas to transfer heat through copper coils, which can wear out as time passes.

4 Clues You Have a Refrigerant Leak

Aside from the weird smell, here are four other signs that you are dealing with a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner runs.
  2. Ice on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. Trouble keeping your house cold or having your programmed temperature.
  4. Higher electrical expenses.

How You Can Repair It

A refrigerant leak requires professional support from a heating and cooling company like WM J Kraus & Son. Your cooling professional will locate and fix the leak before recharging your AC with refrigerant.

Repairing a refrigerant leak usually costs between $225 and $1,600, per nationwide averages compiled by HomeAdvisor. Your total cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how much time it requires to fix.

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 produced as a result of its harmful effects on the ozone layer. Due to this, repairs can be extremely expensive so it may be smartest to consider air conditioning installation in this situation.

2. Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, there’s likely nothing wrong with it. But there’s a good probability you have a natural gas leak in your residence. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to alert you when there’s a leak, since the gas can be toxic in big amounts.

How You Can Solve It

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

  • Switching off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Going outside as soon as possible.
  • Contacting your gas company immediately.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Individuals who contact us about this situation usually mention their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it runs. Also called dirty sock syndrome, this smell is often linked to a dirty evaporator coil that has mold, mildew and bacteria buildup. Moisture can also make your home air conditioner smell bad. Dirty sock syndrome is most typical in climates where you use heating at night and during the morning before switching to cooling during the afternoon.

How to Solve It

The best approach for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to frequently get a new air filter and schedule regular air conditioning maintenance with WM J Kraus & Son. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unclogged, since standing water can also lead to unpleasant odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are living with air conditioner mildew smell or a strong, vinegar-like odor, it might be the result of several issues, like:

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

How to Resolve 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 smell, reach WM J Kraus & Son at 319-229-2318.

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 a number of things wrong. These include:

  • Broken capacitator that’s overheating the motor.
  • Motor that needs lubrication.
  • Broken fan belt.
  • Electrical problem.

Electrical problems should be examined immediately to avoid a fire. If you notice burning plastic when your air conditioner is running, shut it off and call us at 319-229-2318 immediately.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

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

How to Repair It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your well-being. That’s why we recommend having a professional like WM J Kraus & Son look at your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when needed.

Our Specialists Can Eliminate Odd Air Conditioner Smells Rapidly

You deserve to be comfortable in your home and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are seeking relief from your noxious air conditioner, contact us at 319-229-2318. We’ll figure out the issue quickly and take care of it at a reasonable.