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

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is spotless and working right, you shouldn’t be smelling anything weird. Abnormal air conditioner noises and odd smells are a sign that something is off. If your air conditioner is old or you haven’t had service done lately, they can be a clear sign you need skilled air conditioning repair in Buellton.

Here are six of the most common 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, particularly a chemical odor, isn’t a great sign. You could also observe your:

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

These sweet, chemical scents are typically a sign that your air conditioner is experiencing a refrigerant leak. Your system relies on this gas to move heat through copper coils, which can crack over time.

4 Hints You Have a Refrigerant Leak

In addition to 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. It’s hard keeping your home cool or achieving your set temperature.
  4. Higher electrical costs.

How You Can Repair It

A refrigerant leak requires experienced support from a heating and cooling company like Allstar Heating & Air Conditioning. Your cooling specialist will locate and repair the leak before recharging your AC with refrigerant.

Repairing a refrigerant leak often costs between $225 and $1,600, based on nationwide averages compiled by HomeAdvisor. Your total cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how many hours it needs to repair.

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 negative effects on the ozone layer. As a result, repairs can be significantly expensive so it may be wisest to schedule air conditioning installation in this situation.

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 significant probability you have a natural gas leak in your house. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to signal you when there’s a leak, since the gas can be toxic in big amounts.

How You Can Fix It

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

  • Shutting off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Evacuating your home right away.
  • Contacting your gas company without delay.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Homeowners who call us about this issue often mention their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it’s on. Also called dirty sock syndrome, this smell is typically created by a dirty evaporator coil that has mold, mildew and bacteria buildup. Condensation can also make your home air conditioner smell bad. Dirty sock syndrome is most often seen in climates where you turn on heating at night and during the morning before transitioning to cooling later on.

How to Repair It

The best approach for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to regularly replace your air filter and schedule routine air conditioning maintenance with Allstar Heating & Air Conditioning. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unclogged, as standing water can also produce nasty odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

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

  • A filthy filter
  • Too much condensation
  • Blocked condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Resolve It

Examine your filter first. If you haven’t put in a new one within the last three months and can’t see light through it, it’s time to replace it. If that doesn’t fix the smell, call Allstar Heating & Air Conditioning at 805-242-9638.

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 involve:

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

Electrical malfunctions should be examined quickly to prevent a fire. If you smell burning plastic when your air conditioner is on, turn it off and reach us at 805-242-9638 immediately.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

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

How to Solve It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your well-being. That’s why we recommend having a specialist like Allstar Heating & Air Conditioning check your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when necessary.

Our Specialists Can Take Care of Odd Air Conditioner Smells Quickly

You deserve to be comfy in your house and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are seeking relief from your smelly air conditioner, reach us at 805-242-9638. We’ll figure out the issue quickly and resolve it at a fair price.