When your air conditioner starts putting out unusual or gross aromas, it is important to take notice because it could be a sign of a significant problem. Dismissing unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioning can lead to further damage to your air conditioning or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on the smell, the cause may be bacteria or fungus in the system. In other cases, it could also signal something mechanically wrong with the air conditioner. Some smells are a sign of a hazardous situation, including a natural gas leak.

At Strine's, we have a nose for these sorts of things. If you smell something peculiar coming from your air conditioner, you can bet that our team of skilled professionals has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned our reputation as the premier company for air conditioning repair in York.

What does a certain smell coming coming from your air conditioning mean? Here are some frequent air conditioner smells and what they could mean:

Your AC Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it may be caused by a buildup of bacteria or fungus inside of it. When moisture builds inside the unit, it can establish an environment that is favorable to the development of bacteria and fungus. This can result in a nasty odor that is often described as smelling like feet.

Another potential cause of the smell might be a dirty air filter. When your HVAC system’s air filter becomes filled with dirt, dust and other contaminants, it can cause substandard air quality and a musty smell that bears a resemblance to feet.

To fix this issue, it’s important to have an experienced specialist 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 routinely to provide good air quality and protect against the development of bacteria and fungus.

Your AC Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your smells like rotten eggs, it may be caused by a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a distinctive 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 a situation that 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 allow gas to escape the area, get everyone out of the building and call your gas company or emergency services right away.

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 an air conditioner, it can cultivate the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty stench that bears a resemblance to mildew.

Another possible explanation for the smell may 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.

Regular air conditioning maintenance from Strine's can help avoid both of these situations, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a great way to keep your system working at its best!

Your AC Smells Like Urine

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

If your air conditioning equipment stinks like urine, it could be due to a variety of factors. One potential cause is a buildup of bacteria or mold in the your cooling system. This can happen in the event that moisture accumulates in the system and creates a damp environment that can promote bacterial growth. The bacteria can produce a foul odor that some people describe as smelling like urine.

Another possible cause of the stink could be a plugged 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 build up inside the unit. This can generate a musty smell that can stink like urine.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your air conditioning unit smells like burning plastic, this could indicate an electrical issue with the unit. After a while, the electrical components in the air conditioning system can wear out or bust, which can make a burning smell that resembles plastic.

Another possible root cause of the smell could be a foreign object lodged in the HVAC system. If something foreign gets trapped in the air conditioning system, it can become hot and emit a smell that reminds people of burning plastic.

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

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

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

As stated before, a natural gas leak can be VERY hazardous and requires 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 straight away.

Your AC Smells Like Fish

Should your air conditioner 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 disgusting odor that can be described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can result in a smell like dirty feet.

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

To solve the issue, it’s worthwhile to have a professional inspect and clean your cooling system. They can find the source of the smell and take the appropriate steps to remove any contaminants and prevent the problem from recurring.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

There could be several reasons a home’s air conditioning system smells like vinegar. One possible cause is a plugged air filter. One other potential cause of the smell may be a refrigerant leak. Sometimes after the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that is similar to vinegar.

To fix the issue, it’s beneficial to have a skilled tech inspect and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor persists after the cleaning and replacing 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 ought to be replaced.

If you are planning to upgrade, Strine's can help find the ideal unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer trustworthy, professional air conditioner installation in York.

Your AC Smells Like Chemicals

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

Another possible cause of the smell could be problems with the electrical wiring or parts inside the air conditioning system. This can cause a burning smell that resembles chemicals or burning plastic.

If you think your system has a refrigerant leak or an electrical issue, it’s important to turn off your air conditioning system right away and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be harmful and may require immediate attention to avoid injury or damage to your house.

A Nasty Odor Coming from the Air Conditioning? Contact the Experts at Strine's

If your air conditioner reeks and you aren’t able to fix it quickly on your own, reach out to the cooling professionals at Strine's. We have plenty of experience working with a wide variety of HVAC systems. Our crew has fixed many air conditioning problems over the years—including strange smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in York!