6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Answered and How to Fix Them

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is fresh and running right, it’s not normal to be smelling anything weird. Peculiar air conditioner noises and odd smells are a sign that something is up. If your air conditioner is old or you haven’t had maintenance completed lately, they can be a sure sign you need skilled air conditioning repair in Front Royal.

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, specifically a chemical smell, isn’t a good sign. You might also report your:

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

These sweet, chemical smells are often a sign that your air conditioner has a refrigerant leak. Your system uses this gas to shift heat through copper coils, which can wear out as time passes.

4 Clues You Have a Refrigerant Leak

Besides the strange smell, here are four other clues that you have a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner is on.
  2. Ice on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. Trouble keeping your home cool or having your programmed temperature.
  4. High electrical expenses.

How You Can Repair It

A refrigerant leak needs skilled assistance from a heating and cooling company like Dave's Diversified Services. Your cooling pro will locate and repair the leak before recharging your AC with refrigerant.

Resolving a refrigerant leak often costs between $225 and $1,600, according to nationwide averages compiled by HomeAdvisor. Your total cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how long it needs to fix.

If your air conditioner was installed before 2010, it’s likely it has R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being produced due to its damaging effects on the ozone layer. As a result, repairs can be significantly expensive so it may be best to consider air conditioning installation in this circumstance.

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 significant likelihood you have a natural gas leak in your home. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to signal 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 advise:

  • Shutting off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Going outside as soon as possible.
  • Call your gas company without delay.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

People who contact us about this situation frequently say their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it’s on. Also known as dirty sock syndrome, this smell is often caused by a filthy evaporator coil that has mold, mildew and bacteria buildup. Condensation can also make your home air conditioner smell bad. Dirty sock syndrome is most typical in locations where you use heating at night and during the morning before switching to cooling later on.

How to Repair It

The best way to prevent dirty sock syndrome is to regularly replace your air filter and schedule yearly air conditioning maintenance with Dave's Diversified Services. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unclogged, because stagnant water can also produce nasty odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are experiencing air conditioner mildew smell or a strong, vinegar-like odor, it could be caused by several situations, such as:

  • A dirty filter
  • Too much condensation
  • Clogged 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, we recommend replacing it. If that doesn’t resolve the smell, contact Dave's Diversified Services at 540-369-3971.

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 entail:

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

Electrical issues should be checked right away to prevent a fire. If you detect burning plastic when your air conditioner is operating, shut it off and contact us at 540-369-3971 immediately.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

A strong ammonia odor means there may be mold flourishing inside 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 it’s important to have a professional like Dave's Diversified Services look at your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when needed.

Our Pros Can Take Care of Odd Air Conditioner Smells Fast

You deserve to be comfortable in your home and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you need relief from your noxious air conditioner, give us a call at 540-369-3971. We’ll determine the trouble quickly and take care of it at a competitive.