When your air conditioner starts putting out odd or unappealing smells, it is a good idea to take notice because it could be a sign of a big problem. Ignoring unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioning may lead to serious damage to your HVAC system or even pose a risk to your health and safety.
Depending on what you're smelling, the culprit might be bacteria or fungus in the system. In other cases, it could also signal something mechanically wrong with the air conditioning system. Some smells are even indicative of a dangerous situation, including a natural gas leak.
At West Michigan Heating & Air Conditioning Services, we have a nose for these sorts of things. If you smell something weird coming from your cooling system, there's a good chance our team of talented pros has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned the reputation as the premier company for air conditioning repair in Hudsonville.
What does a specific odor billowing from your cooling system mean? Here are a few frequent air conditioner smells and what they may mean:
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet
If your air conditioner smells like feet, it could be due to a buildup of bacteria or fungus inside of it. When moisture accumulates inside the unit, it can establish an environment that is favorable to the spread of bacteria and fungus. This can produce a bad odor that is often described as smelling like dirty feet.
Another possible reason for an odor of stinky feet could be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes clogged with dirt, dust and other contaminants, it can result in substandard air quality and a musty smell that bears a resemblance to 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 change the air filter routinely to ensure good air quality and restrict the formation of bacteria and fungus.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs
If your air conditioning unit stinks like rotten eggs, it might be the result of a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a distinct 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 ventilate the area, make everyone leave the building and call your gas company or emergency services at once.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew
If your AC emits a smell like mildew, it could be due to a collection of moisture inside the unit. When moisture collects inside a cooling system, it can cultivate the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty stench that it similar to mildew.
Another possible reason for the smell could be a soiled air filter. If the air filter becomes clogged, it can result in poor air quality and a musty smell that has a resemblance to mildew.
Routine air conditioning maintenance from West Michigan Heating & Air Conditioning Services can help avoid both of these problems, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a great way to keep your system operating at its best!
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine
One of the most distressing things is when an air conditioner smells like urine.
If your air conditioner smells like urine, it could be due to a variety of factors. One potential cause is a buildup of bacteria or mold in the your cooling system. This can happen when moisture accumulates in the system and creates a moist environment that is conducive to bacterial growth. The bacteria can emit a foul odor that resembles urine.
Another possible cause of the stink could be a plugged drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away effectively, but if the drain line becomes clogged with debris, it can cause water to back up and collect inside the unit. This can generate a musty smell that resembles urine.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic
If your air conditioning system smells like burning plastic, a possible cause could be an electrical problem with the unit. After some time, the electrical elements in the air conditioning system can wear out or malfunction, which can produce a burning smell that resembles plastic.
Another possible cause of the smell could be a foreign object stuck in the the air conditioner. If something foreign gets stuck in the air conditioning system, it can heat up and emit a smell that reminds people of burning plastic.
If you notice something that smells like burning plastic coming from your cooling system, it’s essential to phone a professional right away.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas
If your air conditioning smells like gas, there could be a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a distinctive odor, often described as smelling of rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because an odor is incorporated into natural gas so that it is easily detectable.
As we said previously, a natural gas leak can be VERY harmful and needs immediate attention. When you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, open windows and doors to air out the home, leave the building and contact your gas company or emergency services straight away.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish
Should your air conditioning equipment smell like fish, it could be due to a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture produces an environment that fosters the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a foul odor that can be described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can cause a smell like dirty feet.
Another plausible explanation for the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material trapped within 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 important to have a professional inspect and clean your HVAC system. They can identify the source of the smell and take the proper steps to remove any contaminants and stop the problem from recurring.
Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar
There could be numerous reasons an AC smells like vinegar. One possible cause might be a clogged air filter. Another possible cause of the smell may 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 beneficial to have a skilled mechanic examine and clean your air conditioning. If the odor persists after the cleaning and replacing of the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to identify and repair any underlying issues with your air conditioning. Or, the tech can tell you if your air conditioning needs to be replaced.
If you are looking to upgrade, West Michigan Heating & Air Conditioning Services can help select the ideal unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer trustworthy, professional air conditioner installation in Hudsonville.
My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals
If the smell of chemicals is coming from your air conditioning equipment, it could be due to a refrigerant leak. If the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical scent that is often described as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.
An additional possible cause of 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 suspect a refrigerant leak or an electrical issue, it's important to shut off your air conditioning system immediately and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be harmful and may require immediate attention to avoid injury or damage to your residence.
Strange Smell Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at West Michigan Heating & Air Conditioning Services
If your air conditioner stinks and you aren’t able to fix it quickly on your own, contact the cooling professionals at West Michigan Heating & Air Conditioning Services. We have lots of experience working with a wide variety of AC systems. Our crew has fixed a multitude of air conditioning concerns throughout the years—including weird smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Hudsonville!