When your air conditioner starts emitting odd or gross smells, it is a good idea to take notice because it could be a sign of a big problem. Ignoring unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioning can lead to further damage to your AC or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on what you're smelling, the cause could be bacteria or fungus in the system. On the other hand, it could also sign something mechanically wrong with the air conditioner. Some smells are a sign of a dangerous scenario, such as a natural gas leak.

At Phelps Heating & Cooling, Inc., we are skilled at diagnosing and fixing these type of problems. If you smell something odd coming from your AC, chances are our team of qualified pros has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned a reputation as the first call for air conditioning repair in Hodgenville.

What does a particular smell coming out of your air conditioning mean? Here are some typical air conditioner aromas and what they might mean:

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it may be because of a buildup of bacteria or fungus inside of it. When moisture collects inside the unit, it can create an environment that is beneficial to the growth of bacteria and fungus. This can cause a foul odor that is often described as smelling like dirty feet.

Another possible cause of the stench of dirty feet may be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes filled with dirt, dust and other contaminants, it can cause low air quality and a musty smell that resembles feet.

To solve 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 replace the air filter on a regular basis to ensure good air quality and prevent the formation of bacteria and fungus.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your reeks of rotten eggs, it might 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, that is added to it to make it easily detectable.

A natural gas leak is extremely 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, make everyone leave the building and call your gas company or emergency services right away.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew

If your cooling system emits a smell like mildew, it could be due to a accumulation 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 odor that resembles mildew.

Another possible explanation for the smell might be a clogged air filter. When the air filter becomes clogged, it can cause poor air quality and a musty smell that is similar to mildew.

Annual air conditioning maintenance from Phelps Heating & Cooling, Inc. can help protect against both of these problems, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a terrific way to keep your system operating at its best!

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Urine

One of the most undesirable scenarios is when your AC smells like urine.

If your air conditioning smells like urine, it could could be caused by multiple factors. One potential cause is a collection of bacteria or mold in the your HVAC. 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 some people describe as smelling like urine.

Another possible cause of the smell 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 choked with debris, it can cause water to back up and collect inside the unit. This can produce a musty smell that resembles urine.

Your AC Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your air conditioning unit smells like burning plastic, it might be because of an electrical concern with the unit. After a while, the electrical elements in the air conditioning system can wear out or break, which can produce a burning smell that resembles plastic.

Another possible cause of the smell could be a foreign object lodged in the HVAC system. If something foreign gets caught in the air conditioning system, it can heat up and emit a smell similar to burning plastic.

If you think you smell burning plastic coming from your air conditioner, it’s worthwhile to phone a professional right away.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioning smells like gas, there could be a natural gas leak in the unit or in your home. Natural gas has a distinct aroma, often described as smelling similar to rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because this scent is added to natural gas to make it easily detectable.

As mentioned earlier, a natural gas leak can be VERY hazardous and calls for immediate attention. Should you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, open windows and doors to air out the home, leave the building and contact your gas company or emergency services right away.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Fish

When your air conditioner smell like fish, this could be a sign of a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture causes an environment that is conducive to 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 result in a smell like dirty feet.

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

To solve the issue, it's often necessary to have a professional inspect and clean your air conditioning system. They will be able to 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 numerous reasons your AC smells like vinegar. One possible cause might be a plugged air filter. One other potential cause of the smell could be a refrigerant leak. If the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that is similar to vinegar.

To fix the issue, it's important to have a skilled specialist examine and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor lingers after the cleaning and replacing of the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to identify and repair any hidden issues with your air conditioning. Or, the mechanic can tell you if your air conditioning ought to be replaced.

If you are planning to upgrade, Phelps Heating & Cooling, Inc. can help select the correct unit to fit your home’s needs. We provide reliable, professional air conditioner installation in Hodgenville.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Chemicals

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

An additional possible source of the smell could be a problem with the electrical wiring or parts inside the air conditioning system. This can result in a burning smell that it similar to chemicals or burning plastic.

If you suspect a refrigerant leak or an electrical problem, 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 hazardous and may require immediate attention to protect against injury or damage to your home.

Weird Smells Coming from Your AC? Contact the Experts at Phelps Heating & Cooling, Inc.

If your air conditioner stinks and you aren’t able to fix it easily on your own, reach out to the cooling experts at Phelps Heating & Cooling, Inc.. We have plenty of experience working with a wide variety of air conditioning systems. Our crew has fixed a multitude of air conditioning concerns through the years—including weird smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Hodgenville!