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

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is spotless and operating correctly, it’s expected you won’t be smelling anything odd. Abnormal air conditioner noises and weird smells are a clue that something is off. If your air conditioner is old or you haven’t had service scheduled within the last year, they can be a clear sign you need professional air conditioning repair in St. Cloud.

Here are six of the most frequent air conditioner smells and how you can resolve 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 regularly a clue that your air conditioner is experiencing a refrigerant leak. Your system uses this gas to transfer heat through copper coils, which can crack over time.

4 Hints You Are Dealing with a Refrigerant Leak

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

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner is operating.
  2. Ice crystals on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. It’s hard keeping your house comfortable or having your programmed temperature.
  4. Increasing electrical bills.

How You Can Fix It

A refrigerant leak needs professional support from a heating and cooling company like Osceola Air, LLC. Your cooling professional will pinpoint and mend the leak before recharging your air conditioner with refrigerant.

Fixing a refrigerant leak often costs between $225 and $1,600, per nationwide averages compiled by HomeAdvisor. Your precise cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how many hours it requires to fix.

If your air conditioner was installed before 2010, there’s a good chance it runs on R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being manufactured as a result of its negative effects on the ozone layer. As a consequence, repairs can be significantly expensive so it may be wisest to schedule air conditioning installation in this instance.

2. Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, there’s probably nothing wrong with it. But there’s a high likelihood you have a natural gas leak in your home. 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 Repair It

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

  • Turning off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Evacuating your home as soon as possible.
  • Getting in touch with your gas company immediately.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Individuals who reach us about this problem frequently mention their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it runs. Also referred to as dirty sock syndrome, this smell is often caused by a filthy 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 turn on 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 regularly replace your air filter and schedule regular air conditioning maintenance with Osceola Air, LLC. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unclogged, because standing water can also result in unpleasant odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are dealing with air conditioner mildew smell or an acidic, vinegar-like odor, it could be the result of several situations, like:

  • A dirty filter
  • Excess condensation
  • Blocked condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Resolve 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 fix the smell, reach Osceola Air, LLC at 407-477-6319.

5. Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If you’re noticing an air conditioner burning smell or that your air conditioner smells like fish, there could be several things wrong. These include:

  • Broken capacitator that’s overheating the motor.
  • Motor that requires lubrication.
  • Broken fan belt.
  • Electrical issue.

Electrical issues should be inspected quickly to avoid a fire. If you smell burning plastic when your air conditioner is operating, switch it off and call us at 407-477-6319 immediately.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

A strong ammonia odor means there might be mold growing in 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 you should have a pro like Osceola Air, LLC look at your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when needed.

Our Pros Can Take Care of Odd Air Conditioner Smells Quickly

You deserve to be cozy in your house and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are looking for relief from your stinky air conditioner, reach us at 407-477-6319. We’ll diagnose the problem quickly and fix it at a fair price.