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6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Decoded and How to Solve Them

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is spotless and operating properly, you shouldn’t be smelling anything strange. Unexpected air conditioner noises and weird smells are a hint that something is up. If your air conditioner is past its prime or you haven’t had a tune-up scheduled lately, they can be a clear sign you need pro air conditioning repair in Franklin.

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

1. Central Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

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

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

These sweet, chemical odors are typically a hint that your air conditioner is experiencing a refrigerant leak. Your system uses this gas to transfer heat through copper coils, which can crack as time goes on.

4 Signs You Have a Refrigerant Leak

Besides the strange smell, here are four other hints that you have a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner is on.
  2. Ice on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. Difficulty keeping your residence comfortable or having your set temperature.
  4. Higher energy bills.

How You Can Fix It

A refrigerant leak calls for professional repairs from a heating and cooling company like Winters Heating and Cooling. Your cooling specialist will pinpoint and mend the leak before recharging your system with refrigerant.

Repairing a refrigerant leak typically costs between $225 and $1,600, based on nationwide averages assembled by HomeAdvisor. Your total cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how much time it takes to fix.

If your air conditioner was installed early than 2010, it’s likely it uses R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being produced as a result of its damaging effects on the ozone layer. As a consequence, repairs can be extremely expensive so it may be wisest 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 good likelihood you have a natural gas leak in your residence. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to alert you when there’s a leak, as the gas can be deadly in heavy concentrations.

How You Can Fix It

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

  • Turning off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Leaving your home as soon as possible.
  • Contacting your gas company without delay.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

People who reach us to report this situation frequently say 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 created by a grubby 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 climates where you turn on heating at night and during the morning before switching to cooling later on.

How to Fix It

The best approach for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to routinely get a new air filter and schedule routine air conditioning maintenance with Winters Heating and Cooling. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system flowing, as standing water can also lead to unpleasant 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
  • Too much condensation
  • Blocked condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Repair It

Check your filter first. If you haven’t replaced it within the last three months and can’t see light through it, you should replace it. If that doesn’t fix the smell, reach Winters Heating and Cooling at 317-406-5783.

5. Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If you’re dealing with an air conditioner burning smell or that your air conditioner smells like fish, there could be several things wrong. These involve:

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

Electrical problems should be checked quickly to stop a fire. If you smell burning plastic when your air conditioner is on, shut it off and reach us at 317-406-5783 right away.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

A strong ammonia odor means there could be mold growing within 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 pro like Winters Heating and Cooling check your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when recommended.

Our Specialists Can Take Care of Odd Air Conditioner Smells Quickly

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 noxious air conditioner, contact us at 317-406-5783. We’ll determine the problem quickly and fix it at a competitive.