6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Decoded and How to Repair the Problem

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is clean and operating properly, you shouldn’t be smelling anything strange. Abnormal air conditioner noises and odd smells are a sign that something is out of whack. If your air conditioner is getting older or you haven’t had a tune-up completed within the last year, they can be an obvious sign you need professional air conditioning repair in Hudsonville.

Here are six of the most common 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, especially a chemical scent, isn’t a good sign. You might also observe your:

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

These sweet, chemical scents are often a hint that your air conditioner is suffering from a refrigerant leak. Your system uses this gas to transfer heat through copper coils, which can crack as time goes on.

4 Hints You Are Experiencing 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 cooling.
  2. Ice crystals on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. Difficulty keeping your home cold or achieving your programmed temperature.
  4. Higher energy costs.

How You Can Repair It

A refrigerant leak needs experienced repairs from a heating and cooling company like West Michigan Heating & Air Conditioning Services. Your cooling professional will pinpoint and fix the leak before recharging your AC with refrigerant.

Fixing 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 much time it requires to repair.

If your air conditioner was installed prior to 2010, there’s a good chance it has R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being made because of its harmful effects on the ozone layer. Due to this, repairs can be very expensive so it may be wisest to do 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 good probability 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 deadly in big amounts.

How You Can Solve It

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

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

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Homeowners who call us about this issue usually report their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it runs. Also known as dirty sock syndrome, this smell is frequently linked to a grubby evaporator coil that has mold, mildew and bacteria buildup. Excess water can also make your home air conditioner smell bad. Dirty sock syndrome is most typical in locations where you need heating at night and during the morning before turning on cooling later in the day.

How to Fix It

The best method for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to routinely replace your air filter and schedule routine air conditioning maintenance with West Michigan Heating & Air Conditioning Services. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unblocked, as stagnant water can also produce unpleasant odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are experiencing air conditioner mildew smell or an acidic, vinegar-like odor, it can be the result of several situations, including:

  • A clogged filter
  • Excess condensation
  • Plugged 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 fix the problem, reach West Michigan Heating & Air Conditioning Services at (616) 669-3961.

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 requires lubrication.
  • Broken fan belt.
  • Electrical issue.

Electrical issues should be examined immediately to avoid a fire. If you smell burning plastic when your air conditioner is running, shut it off and reach us at (616) 669-3961 without delay.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

An overpowering ammonia odor means there could be mold spreading in your air conditioner or ductwork. The smell isn’t the mold itself, but the mycotoxins that mold produces.

How to Repair It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your health. That’s why it’s important to have a professional like West Michigan Heating & Air Conditioning Services examine your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when recommended.

Our Professionals Can Eliminate Weird Air Conditioner Smells Quickly

You deserve to be comfy in your home and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are seeking relief from your stinky air conditioner, reach us at (616) 669-3961. We’ll diagnose the issue quickly and fix it at a fair price.