When your air conditioner starts spewing unusual or unappealing aromas, it is a good idea to take notice because it could be a sign of a significant problem. Disregarding unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioning may lead to serious damage to your AC or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on what you’re smelling, the culprit may be bacteria or fungus in the system. Other times, it could also sign something mechanically wrong with the air conditioning system. Some smells are a sign of an unsafe situation, such as a natural gas leak.

At Air Masters Heating & Cooling, we are experienced at getting to the root cause of stinky smells. If you smell something weird coming from your cooling system, you can bet that our team of talented specialists has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned our reputation as the first call for air conditioning repair in Port Orchard.

What does a particular smell wafting out of your cooling system mean? Here are several common air conditioner odors and what they might mean:

Your AC Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it can be because of a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the system. When moisture collects inside the unit, it can create an environment that is favorable to the spread of bacteria and fungus. This can result in a nasty odor that is often described as smelling like dirty feet.

Another likely explanation for an odor of stinky feet may be a dirty air filter. When the air filter becomes choked with dirt, dust and other debris, it can lead to low air quality and a musty smell that it similar to the smell of feet.

To fix 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 promote good air quality and prevent the formation of bacteria and fungus.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, it could be due to a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a recognizable 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 air out the area, get everyone out of the building and call your gas company or emergency services at once.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Mildew

If your AC is giving off an odor like mildew, it could be due to a buildup of moisture inside the unit. When moisture forms inside an air conditioner, it can promote the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty smell that resembles mildew.

Another possible cause of the smell could be a clogged air filter. When the air filter becomes clogged, it can result in poor air quality and a musty smell that resembles mildew.

Routine air conditioning maintenance from Air Masters Heating & Cooling can help avoid both of these issues, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a great way to keep your system running at its best!

Your AC Smells Like Urine

One of the most undesirable situations is when an air conditioner smells like urine.

If your air conditioning smells like urine, it could could be caused by multiple factors. One possible cause is a accumulation of bacteria or mold in the your cooling system. This can happen when moisture accumulates in the system and creates a moist environment that can promote bacterial growth. The bacteria can create a foul odor that it similar to urine.

Another potential cause of the smell could be a clogged drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away properly, but if the drain line becomes stopped up by debris, it can cause water to back up and build up inside the unit. This can produce a musty smell that can stink like urine.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your air conditioner smells like burning plastic, it might be because of an electrical issue with the unit. After some time, the electrical elements in the air conditioning system can wear out or malfunction, which can create a burning smell that resembles plastic.

Another possible root cause of the smell could be a foreign object lodged in the HVAC system. If something foreign gets trapped in the air conditioning system, it can get hot and result in a smell that reminds people of burning plastic.

If you notice something that smells like burning plastic coming from your AC unit, it’s important to contact a professional right away.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Gas

If your AC smells like gas, there could be a natural gas leak in the unit or in another part of your home. Natural gas has a distinctive aroma, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because this scent is put into natural gas to make it easily detectable.

As mentioned before, a natural gas leak can be VERY harmful and calls for immediate attention. When you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, open windows and doors to air out the home, evacuate the building and call your gas company or emergency services as soon as possible.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish

Should your air conditioning equipment smell like fish, this could be a sign of a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture produces an environment that promotes the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a strong odor that can be described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can cause a smell like dirty feet.

Another possible cause of the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material caught within the air conditioning system. This often can happen if an animal such as a mouse or bird becomes trapped inside the unit and dies.

To solve the issue, it’s important to have a professional inspect and clean your cooling system. They can determine the source of the smell and take the appropriate steps to remove any contaminants and stop the problem from recurring.

Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

There could be several reasons an air conditioner smells like vinegar. One possible cause is a plugged air filter. Another possible cause of the smell could be a refrigerant leak. Sometimes after the refrigerant leaks, it can generate a chemical odor that resembles vinegar.

To fix the issue, it’s beneficial to have a skilled tech look at and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor lingers after the cleaning and exchanging the air filter, it’s best to reach back out to a professional to diagnose and repair any persistent issues with your air conditioning. Or, they can tell you if your air conditioning needs to be replaced.

If you are looking to upgrade, Air Masters Heating & Cooling can help select the right unit to fit your home’s needs. We deliver reliable, professional air conditioner installation in Port Orchard.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is coming out of your air conditioning unit, it could be caused by a refrigerant leak. In a situation where the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that people sometimes describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.

Another possible source of the smell could be something wrong with the electrical wiring or elements inside the air conditioning system. This can cause a burning smell that it similar to chemicals or burning plastic.

If you believe there is a refrigerant leak or an electrical issue, it’s important to shut down 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 house.

Strange Smell Coming from Your AC? Contact the Experts at Air Masters Heating & Cooling

If your air conditioner stinks and you aren’t able to fix it simply on your own, contact the cooling specialists at Air Masters Heating & Cooling. We have plenty of experience working with a wide variety of HVAC systems. Our crew has fixed a multitude of air conditioning troubles over the years—including weird smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Port Orchard!