6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Explained and How to Fix the Issue

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is fresh and operating properly, you shouldn’t be smelling anything weird. Unusual air conditioner noises and strange smells are a hint that something is off. If your air conditioner is old or you haven’t had maintenance scheduled within the last year, they can be an obvious sign you need skilled air conditioning repair in Gresham.

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

1. Central Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If your air conditioner smells bad when turned on, specifically a chemical smell, isn’t a good sign. You could also report your:

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

These sweet, chemical odors are regularly a clue that your air conditioner is experiencing a refrigerant leak. Your system uses this gas to shift heat through copper coils, which can wear out as time passes.

4 Signs You Have a Refrigerant Leak

Aside from the odd 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. Trouble keeping your house cold or achieving your desired temperature.
  4. Higher utility bills.

How You Can Take Care of It

A refrigerant leak needs skilled repairs from a heating and cooling company like Honke Heating & AC. Your cooling pro will pinpoint and mend the leak before recharging your air conditioner with refrigerant.

Resolving a refrigerant leak often costs between $225 and $1,600, per 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 fix.

If your air conditioner was installed prior to 2010, there’s a good chance it runs on R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being produced because of its harmful effects on the ozone layer. As a consequence, repairs can be significantly expensive so it may be best to consider air conditioning installation in this instance.

2. Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, there’s likely nothing wrong with it. But there’s a good chance you have a natural gas leak in your residence. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to warn you when there’s a leak, since the gas can be toxic in heavy concentrations.

How You Can Solve It

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

  • Switching off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Evacuating your home right away.
  • Getting in touch with your gas company now.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Homeowners who reach us regarding this situation usually say their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it’s running. Also called dirty sock syndrome, this smell is usually linked to 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 use heating at night and during the morning before turning on cooling later on.

How to Solve It

The best way to prevent dirty sock syndrome is to routinely change your air filter and schedule regular air conditioning maintenance with Honke Heating & AC. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unblocked, as excess water can also lead to unpleasant odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are living with air conditioner mildew smell or an acidic, vinegar-like odor, it can be prompted by several situations, including:

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

How to Resolve It

Inspect 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 resolve the smell, reach Honke Heating & AC at 503-663-8033.

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 a couple of things wrong. These involve:

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

Electrical malfunctions should be inspected immediately to avoid a fire. If you notice burning plastic when your air conditioner is operating, turn it off and reach us at 503-663-8033 right away.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

A powerful ammonia odor means there could be mold flourishing in your air conditioner or ductwork. The smell isn’t the mold itself, but the mycotoxins that mold produces.

How to Repair It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your well-being. That’s why we recommend having a professional like Honke Heating & AC examine your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when recommended.

Our Professionals Can Take Care of Unpleasant Air Conditioner Smells Rapidly

You deserve to be comfy in your residence and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are looking for relief from your stinky air conditioner, reach us at 503-663-8033. We’ll figure out the issue quickly and take care of it at a competitive.