When your air conditioner starts emitting strange or funky odors, it is important to take notice because it could be a sign of a major problem. Ignoring unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioner may lead to further damage to your HVAC system or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on the smell, the cause may be bacteria or fungus in the system. In other cases, it could also indicate something mechanically wrong with the AC. Some smells are a sign of a dangerous scenario, including a natural gas leak.

At Dave's Diversified Services, we are skilled at diagnosing and fixing these type of problems. If you smell something odd coming from your AC, there's a good chance our team of talented professionals has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned a reputation as the go-to team for air conditioning repair in Front Royal.

What does a certain smell billowing coming from your cooling system mean? Here are some frequent air conditioner smells and what they could mean:

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it might 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 cause a foul odor that is often described as smelling like dirty feet.

Another potential reason for an odor of stinky feet could be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes clogged with dirt, dust and other particles, it can lead to poor air quality and a musty smell that it similar to the smell of feet.

To solve this dilemma, it's important to have a professional inspect and clean your air conditioning system, including the evaporator coil, drain pan and condensate drain line. It's also important to exchange the air filter on a regular basis to ensure good air quality and restrict the growth of bacteria and fungus.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your reeks of rotten eggs, it might be due to a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a unique odor, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur, which is because of a substance added to it to make it easily detectable.

A natural gas leak is a situation that is extraordinarily dangerous and requires immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, immediately open windows and doors to allow gas to escape the area, get everyone out of the building and call your gas company or emergency services at once.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Mildew

If your AC smells like mildew, it may be due to a buildup of moisture inside the unit. When moisture accumulates inside a cooling system, it can promote the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty odor that bears a resemblance to mildew.

Another possible reason for the smell could be a clogged air filter. When the air filter becomes clogged, it can lead to poor air quality and a musty smell that is similar to mildew.

Annual air conditioning maintenance from Dave's Diversified Services can help prevent both of these problems, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a great way to keep your system operating at its best!

The Air Conditioning 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 conditioning stinks like urine, it could be due to a variety of factors. One possible cause is a collection of bacteria or mold in the your HVAC. 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 is like urine.

Another potential cause of the smell could be a blocked drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away correctly, but if the drain line becomes choked with debris, it can cause water to back up and build up inside the unit. This can generate a musty smell that is sometimes described as smelling of urine.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your AC smells like burning plastic, this could indicate an electrical issue with the unit. Over time, 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 result in a smell like burning plastic.

If you notice something that smells like burning plastic coming from your air conditioner, it’s essential to contact a professional right away.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioning smells like gas, it could be due to a natural gas leak in the unit or in another part of your home. Natural gas has a distinctive aroma, often described as smelling similar to rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because a smell is incorporated into natural gas to make it easily detectable.

As mentioned before, a natural gas leak can be VERY harmful and requires immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, open windows and doors to air out the home, get everyone out of the building and phone your gas company or emergency services right away.

Your AC Smells Like Fish

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

Another plausible explanation for the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material caught inside the air conditioning system. This often can take place if an animal such as a mouse or bird becomes trapped inside the unit and dies.

To fix the issue, it's worthwhile to have a professional examine and clean your cooling system. They will be able to identify the source of the smell and take the correct steps to remove any contaminants and stop the problem from recurring.

Your AC Smells Like Vinegar

There could be several reasons an air conditioning system smells like vinegar. One possible cause of the smell could be a clogged air filter. One other likely cause of the smell might be a refrigerant leak. If the refrigerant leaks, it can generate a chemical odor that is similar to vinegar.

To fix the issue, it's essential to have a skilled specialist look at and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor persists after the cleaning and changing of the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to find 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 planning to upgrade, Dave's Diversified Services can help select the ideal unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer dependable, professional air conditioner installation in Front Royal.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is coming from your air conditioner, it could be the result of a refrigerant leak. If the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical aroma that is often described as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.

An additional possible reason for the smell could be something wrong with the electrical wiring or parts inside the air conditioning system. This can result in a burning smell that it similar to 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 as soon as possible and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be hazardous and may require immediate attention to prevent injury or damage to your house.

A Nasty Odor Coming from Your Cooling? Call the Pros at Dave's Diversified Services

If your air conditioner reeks and you aren’t able to fix it smoothly on your own, call the cooling experts at Dave's Diversified Services. We have years of experience working with a wide variety of cooling systems. Our crew has fixed many air conditioning troubles over the years—including weird smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Front Royal!