When your air conditioner starts emitting unusual or unappealing smells, it is a good idea to take notice because it could be a sign of a significant problem. Ignoring unpleasant smells coming from your cooling system can lead to additional damage to your air conditioning or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on the smell, the cause might be bacteria or fungus in the system. In other cases, it could also signal something mechanically wrong with the air conditioning system. Some smells are a warning of a harmful scenario, including a natural gas leak.

At Refrigeration Systems Ltd., we are experienced at getting to the root cause of stinky smells. If you smell something weird coming from your air conditioner, there’s a good chance our team of talented pros has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned the reputation as the premier company for air conditioning repair in Richmond.

What does a specific odor wafting from your cooling system mean? Here are a few frequent air conditioner smells and what they could mean:

Your AC Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it can be caused by a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the unit. When moisture accumulates inside the unit, it can create an environment that is conducive to the growth of bacteria and fungus. This can result in a bad odor that is often described as smelling like feet.

Another possible explanation for the smell may be a dirty air filter. When your HVAC system’s air filter becomes clogged with dirt, dust and other debris, it can result in poor air quality and a musty smell that it similar to the smell of feet.

To solve this problem, 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 on a regular basis to ensure good air quality and prevent the formation of bacteria and fungus.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioning unit stinks like rotten eggs, it may be caused by 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 extraordinarily dangerous and requires immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, immediately open windows and doors to ventilate the area, evacuate the building and call your gas company or emergency services right away.

Your AC Smells Like Mildew

If your air conditioner is giving off an odor like mildew, it may be due to a buildup of moisture inside the unit. When moisture collects inside a cooling system, it can cultivate the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty odor that bears a resemblance to mildew.

Another possible explanation for the smell may be a soiled air filter. If 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 Refrigeration Systems Ltd. can help protect against both of these issues, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a great way to keep your system working at its best!

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Urine

One of the most undesirable situations is when the air coming out of your HVAC system smells like urine.

If your air conditioning equipment smells like urine, it could be traced back to a number of things. One likely cause is a accumulation of bacteria or mold in the your HVAC. This can happen when moisture accumulates in the system and creates a moist environment that is conducive to bacterial growth. The bacteria can create a foul odor that some people describe as smelling like 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 correctly, but if the drain line becomes choked with debris, it can cause water to back up and collect inside the unit. This can produce a musty smell that is sometimes described as smelling of urine.

Your AC Smells Like Burning Plastic

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

Another possible root cause of the smell could be a foreign object that somehow got in the unit. If something foreign gets trapped in the air conditioning system, it can heat up and result in a smell like burning plastic.

If you notice something that smells like burning plastic coming from your cooling system, it’s important to phone a professional right away.

Your AC Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like gas, it could be due to a natural gas leak in the unit or in another part of your home. Natural gas has a distinct smell, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because an odor is added to natural gas to make it easily detectable.

As stated before, a natural gas leak can be VERY harmful and needs immediate attention. Should 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

When 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 is often described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can cause a smell like dirty feet.

Another plausible explanation for the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material caught inside the air conditioning system. This often can take place if an animal such as a mouse or bird gets trapped inside the unit and dies.

To solve the issue, it’s often necessary to have a professional check out and clean your cooling system. They should be able to identify the source of the smell and take the proper steps to remove any contaminants and stop the problem from recurring.

Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

There could be multiple reasons a home’s AC smells like vinegar. One possible cause is a clogged air filter. One other likely cause of the smell could be a refrigerant leak. Sometimes after the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that resembles 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 changing of the air filter, it’s best to reach back out to a professional to identify and repair any persistent issues with your air conditioning. Or, the tech can tell you if your air conditioning should be replaced.

If you are wanting to upgrade, Refrigeration Systems Ltd. can help find the ideal unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer dependable, skilled air conditioner installation in Richmond.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

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

An additional possible reason for the smell could be problems with the electrical wiring or parts inside the air conditioning system. This can result in a burning smell that resembles chemicals or burning plastic.

If you think your system has a refrigerant leak or an electrical concern, it’s important to shut off your air conditioning system immediately and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be dangerous and may require immediate attention to avoid injury or damage to your home.

Weird Smells Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at Refrigeration Systems Ltd.

If your air conditioner stinks and you aren’t able to fix it easily on your own, contact the cooling experts at Refrigeration Systems Ltd.. We have years of experience working with a wide variety of HVAC systems. Our crew has fixed a multitude of air conditioning concerns through the years—including funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Richmond!