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6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Explained and How to Solve the Problem

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is clean and operating correctly, it’s expected you won’t be smelling anything strange. Unusual air conditioner noises and strange smells are a sign that something is out of whack. If your air conditioner is aging or you haven’t had a tune-up completed within the last year, they can be a clear sign you need professional air conditioning repair in Racine.

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, particularly a chemical scent, isn’t a great sign. You might also observe your:

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

These sweet, chemical smells are often a hint that your air conditioner is suffering from a refrigerant leak. Your system relies on this gas to shift heat through copper coils, which can wear out as time goes on.

4 Hints You Have a Refrigerant Leak

Besides the strange smell, here are four other signs that you have 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 home comfortable or achieving your set temperature.
  4. High electrical expenses.

How You Can Fix It

A refrigerant leak calls for experienced repairs from a heating and cooling company like Keystone Heating & Air Conditioning Co., Inc. Your cooling professional will find and mend the leak before recharging your system with refrigerant.

Repairing a refrigerant leak usually 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 much time it takes to solve.

If your air conditioner was installed prior to 2010, there’s a high probability it has R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being produced because of its harmful effects on the ozone layer. Due to this, repairs can be significantly expensive so it may be best to do 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 residence. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to warn you when there’s a leak, as the gas can be fatal in heavy concentrations.

How You Can Repair It

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

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

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Homeowners who reach us regarding this issue usually mention their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it’s on. Also known as dirty sock syndrome, this smell is often 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 common in climates where you need heating at night and during the morning before switching to cooling later in the day.

How to Fix It

The best method for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to frequently get a new air filter and schedule routine air conditioning maintenance with Keystone Heating & Air Conditioning Co., Inc. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unclogged, since excess water can also lead to nasty odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are dealing with air conditioner mildew smell or a pungent, vinegar-like odor, it can be prompted by several situations, such as:

  • A clogged filter
  • Excess condensation
  • Plugged condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Fix It

Inspect your filter first. If you haven’t changed it within the last three months and can’t see light through it, you should replace it. If that doesn’t fix the smell, contact Keystone Heating & Air Conditioning Co., Inc at 262-358-9468.

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 malfunctions.

Electrical problems should be inspected right away to avoid a fire. If you smell burning plastic when your air conditioner is running, turn it off and reach us at 262-358-9468 immediately.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

A strong ammonia odor means there might be mold present inside your air conditioner or ductwork. The smell isn’t the mold itself, but the mycotoxins that mold creates.

How to Repair It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your wellness. That’s why you should have a specialist like Keystone Heating & Air Conditioning Co., Inc check your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when necessary.

Our Professionals Can Eliminate Odd Air Conditioner Smells Fast

You deserve to be cozy in your home and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are looking for relief from your stinky air conditioner, contact us at 262-358-9468. We’ll diagnose the trouble quickly and resolve it at a competitive.