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

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is clean and working right, you shouldn’t be smelling anything strange. Unusual air conditioner noises and strange smells are a clue that something is off. If your air conditioner is getting older or you haven’t had service completed within the last year, they can be a clear sign you need skilled air conditioning repair in Paso Robles.

Here are six of the top 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 odors are often a sign that your air conditioner is experiencing a refrigerant leak. Your system uses this gas to transfer heat through copper coils, which can crack over time.

4 Signs You Are Dealing with 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 runs.
  2. Ice on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. It’s hard keeping your home cool or achieving your programmed temperature.
  4. Increasing electrical expenses.

How You Can Repair It

A refrigerant leak requires skilled support from a heating and cooling company like Paso Robles Heating and Air. Your cooling professional will find and mend the leak before recharging your air conditioner with refrigerant.

Repairing a refrigerant leak typically costs between $225 and $1,600, based on nationwide averages assembled by HomeAdvisor. Your exact cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how long it requires to repair.

If your air conditioner was installed prior to 2010, there’s a good chance it uses R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being manufactured due to its harmful effects on the ozone layer. As a consequence, repairs can be very expensive so it may be best to do 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 significant chance you have a natural gas leak in your residence. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to alert you when there’s a leak, since the gas can be deadly in big amounts.

How You Can Solve It

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

  • Shutting off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Going outside right away.
  • Call your gas company without delay.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

People who contact us about this problem often mention their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it’s running. Also called dirty sock syndrome, this smell is typically created by a dirty 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 often seen in areas where you use heating at night and during the morning before switching to cooling later in the day.

How to Repair It

The best approach for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to frequently change your air filter and schedule yearly air conditioning maintenance with Paso Robles Heating and Air. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system flowing, since standing water can also lead to noxious odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are living with air conditioner mildew smell or an acidic, vinegar-like odor, it might be caused by several issues, including:

  • A filthy filter
  • Excess condensation
  • Clogged condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Repair 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, you should replace it. If that doesn’t fix the problem, reach Paso Robles Heating and Air at 805-203-8667.

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 several things wrong. These entail:

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

Electrical issues should be checked right away to avoid a fire. If you smell burning plastic when your air conditioner is on, shut it off and contact us at 805-203-8667 right away.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

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

How to Solve It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your well-being. That’s why it’s important to have a specialist like Paso Robles Heating and Air look at your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when recommended.

Our Pros Can Eliminate Strange Air Conditioner Smells Quickly

You deserve to be comfortable in your residence and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you need relief from your stinky air conditioner, give us a call at 805-203-8667. We’ll determine the issue quickly and resolve it at a reasonable.