24/7 Emergency Support

6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Decoded and How to Repair Them

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is fresh and operating properly, you shouldn’t be smelling anything weird. Abnormal air conditioner noises and weird smells are a clue that something is out of whack. If your air conditioner is old or you haven’t had a tune-up scheduled within the last year, they can be a sure sign you need professional air conditioning repair in Plainfield.

Here are six of the most common air conditioner smells and how you can solve them.

1. Central Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If your air conditioner smells bad when turned on, especially a chemical odor, isn’t a great sign. You could also notice your:

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

These sweet, chemical scents are regularly a sign that your air conditioner has a refrigerant leak. Your system relies on this gas to shift heat through copper coils, which can crack as time goes on.

4 Hints You Have a Refrigerant Leak

Besides the odd smell, here are four other signs that you are dealing with a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner is cooling.
  2. Ice on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. It’s hard keeping your residence comfortable or having your desired temperature.
  4. Increasing utility expenses.

How You Can Take Care of It

A refrigerant leak requires professional repairs from a heating and cooling company like PWA Heating & Cooling Inc. Your cooling technician will locate and mend the leak before recharging your system with refrigerant.

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

If your air conditioner was installed before 2010, it’s likely it has R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being produced because of its adverse 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 instance.

2. Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, there’s possibly nothing wrong with it. But there’s a good likelihood you have a natural gas leak in your home. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to alert you when there’s a leak, since the gas can be fatal in big amounts.

How You Can Repair It

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

  • Shutting off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Going outside promptly.
  • Call your gas company now.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Homeowners who contact us about this issue often share their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it’s on. Also referred to as dirty sock syndrome, this smell is usually linked to a filthy evaporator coil that has mold, mildew and bacteria buildup. Condensation can also make your home air conditioner smell bad. Dirty sock syndrome is most typical in areas where you need heating at night and during the morning before turning on cooling later on.

How to Repair It

The best way to prevent dirty sock syndrome is to routinely replace your air filter and schedule routine air conditioning maintenance with PWA Heating & Cooling Inc. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unblocked, since excess water can also create noxious odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are dealing with air conditioner mildew smell or a strong, vinegar-like odor, it could be caused by several problems, such as:

  • A filthy filter
  • Extra condensation
  • Plugged condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Resolve It

Inspect your filter first. If you haven’t changed it within the last three months and can’t see light through it, it’s time to replace it. If that doesn’t solve the issue, reach PWA Heating & Cooling Inc at 815-410-1231.

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 entail:

  • Broken capacitator that’s overheating the motor.
  • Motor that should have lubrication.
  • Broken fan belt.
  • Electrical trouble.

Electrical issues should be checked quickly to avoid a fire. If you detect burning plastic when your air conditioner is running, shut it off and reach us at 815-410-1231 right away.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

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

How to Fix It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your health. That’s why you should have a specialist like PWA Heating & Cooling Inc examine your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when necessary.

Our Specialists Can Eliminate Weird Air Conditioner Smells Quickly

You deserve to be comfy in your residence and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you need relief from your stinky air conditioner, contact us at 815-410-1231. We’ll diagnose the trouble quickly and resolve it at a reasonable.