When your air conditioner starts emitting strange or unappealing aromas, it is necessary to take notice because it could be a sign of a major problem. Ignoring unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioning may lead to additional damage to your air conditioning or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

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

At Struven 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 qualified specialists has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned the reputation as the premier company for air conditioning repair in Crown Point.

What does a particular smell wafting out of your AC mean? Here are several typical air conditioner smells and what they might mean:

Your AC Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it might be because of a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the unit. When moisture collects inside the unit, it can establish an environment that is conducive to the development of bacteria and fungus. This can produce a foul odor that is often described as smelling like stinky feet.

Another likely cause of the smell could be a dirty air filter. When your HVAC system’s air filter becomes choked with dirt, dust and other particles, it can result in substandard air quality and a musty smell that resembles feet.

To fix this unpleasant situation, it’s important to have a quality service tech inspect and clean your air conditioning system, including the evaporator coil, drain pan and condensate drain line. It’s also important to exchange the air filter regularly to promote good air quality and prevent the formation of bacteria and fungus.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioning unit reeks of rotten eggs, it could be caused by a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a distinct odor, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur, that is added to it to make it easily detectable.

A natural gas leak is a situation that is very dangerous and requires immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, immediately open windows and doors to allow gas to escape the area, get everyone out of the building and call your gas company or emergency services at once.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew

If your air conditioner is giving off an odor like mildew, it may be due to a collection of moisture inside the unit. When moisture accumulates inside a cooling system, it can foster the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty smell that resembles mildew.

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

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

Your AC Smells Like Urine

One of the most distressing scenarios is when an air conditioner smells like urine.

If your air conditioning equipment stinks like urine, it could be traced back to a number of things. One likely cause is a buildup of bacteria or mold in the air conditioning system. This can happen when moisture accumulates in the system and creates a damp environment that is conducive to bacterial growth. The bacteria can create a foul odor that some people describe as smelling like urine.

Another possible cause of the scent of urine could be a clogged drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away effectively, but if the drain line becomes clogged with debris, it can cause water to back up and build up inside the unit. This can create a musty smell that resembles urine.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your AC smells like burning plastic, a possible cause could be an electrical issue with the unit. After some time, the electrical parts in the air conditioning system can wear out or malfunction, which can produce a burning smell that resembles plastic.

Another possible reason for the smell could be a foreign object stuck in the the air conditioner. If something foreign gets trapped in the air conditioning system, it can get hot and emit a smell that reminds people of burning plastic.

If you smell burning plastic coming from your AC unit, it’s important to call a professional right away.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Gas

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

As mentioned previously, a natural gas leak can be VERY dangerous 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, get everyone out of the building and contact your gas company or emergency services as soon as possible.

Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish

Should your air conditioner smell like fish, you may have a situation where there’s a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture creates an environment that promotes the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a strong odor that is often described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can cause a smell like dirty feet.

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

To fix the issue, it’s often necessary to have a professional inspect and clean your air conditioning 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 multiple reasons an AC smells like vinegar. One possible cause might be a plugged air filter. One other likely cause of the smell may be a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can generate a chemical odor that is described as smelling of vinegar.

To fix the issue, it’s essential to have a skilled specialist inspect and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor persists 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, the mechanic can tell you if your air conditioning should be replaced.

If you are looking to upgrade, Struven Heating & Cooling can help select the right unit to fit your home’s needs. We deliver trustworthy, skilled air conditioner installation in Crown Point.

Your AC Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is coming from your air conditioning unit, it could be due to a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that some people describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.

One other possible reason for the smell could be problems with the electrical wiring or hardware inside the air conditioning system. This can produce a burning smell that is like chemicals or burning plastic.

If you believe there is a refrigerant leak or an electrical issue, it’s important to shut off your air conditioning system right away and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be hazardous and may require immediate attention to prevent injury or damage to your home.

A Nasty Odor Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at Struven Heating & Cooling

If your air conditioner stinks and you aren’t able to fix it easily on your own, reach out to the cooling experts at Struven Heating & Cooling. We have years of experience working with a wide variety of HVAC systems. Our crew has fixed many air conditioning problems throughout the years—including funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Crown Point!