When your air conditioner starts emitting strange or gross smells, it is necessary to take notice because it could be a sign of a major problem. Ignoring unpleasant smells coming from your cooling system can lead to further damage to your HVAC system or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on the smell, the cause might be bacteria or fungus in the system. Other times, it could also indicate something mechanically wrong with the air conditioner. Some smells are even indicative of an unsafe situation, such as a natural gas leak.

At Lanz Furnace and Fireplace, we are experienced at getting to the root cause of stinky smells. If you smell something peculiar coming from your cooling system, there’s a good chance our team of skilled professionals has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned the reputation as the go-to team for air conditioning repair in Monroe.

What does a particular smell wafting out of your air conditioning mean? Here are several common air conditioner smells and what they may mean:

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Feet

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

Another potential reason for the stench of dirty feet may be a dirty air filter. When your HVAC system’s air filter becomes choked with dirt, dust and other contaminants, it can result in substandard air quality and a musty smell that bears a resemblance to feet.

To correct this problem, 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 change the air filter regularly to ensure good air quality and restrict the growth of bacteria and fungus.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Rotten Eggs

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

A natural gas leak can be extraordinarily dangerous and requires immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, immediately open windows and doors to air out the area, make everyone leave the building and call your gas company or emergency services right away.

Your AC Smells Like Mildew

If your cooling system smells like mildew, it could 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 reason for the smell could be a dirty air filter. When the air filter becomes clogged, it can cause poor air quality and a musty smell that has a resemblance to mildew.

Regular air conditioning maintenance from Lanz Furnace and Fireplace can help avoid both of these problems, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a very good way to keep your system working at its best!

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Urine

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

If your air conditioner reeks of urine, it could could be caused by multiple factors. One potential cause is a accumulation of bacteria or mold in the your cooling system. This can happen if moisture accumulates in the system and creates a wet environment that favorable for bacterial growth. The bacteria can create 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 properly, but if the drain line becomes filled with debris, it can cause water to back up and build up inside the unit. This can produce a musty smell that can stink like urine.

Your AC Smells Like Burning Plastic

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

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

If you think you smell burning plastic coming from your cooling system, it’s worthwhile to call a professional right away.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioning smells like gas, there could be a natural gas leak in the unit or in another part of your home. 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 so that it is easily detectable.

As stated earlier, a natural gas leak can be VERY hazardous 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 straight away.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish

When your AC smell like fish, it could be due to 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 sometimes described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can create a smell like dirty feet.

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

To correct the issue, it’s often necessary to have a professional inspect and clean your HVAC system. They should be able to identify the source of the smell and take the appropriate steps to remove any contaminants and keep the problem from recurring.

Your AC Smells Like Vinegar

There could be multiple reasons an air conditioner smells like vinegar. One possible cause of the smell could be a dirty air filter. One other possible cause of the smell might 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 lingers after the cleaning and changing of the air filter, it’s best to reach back out to a professional to find 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 wanting to upgrade, Lanz Furnace and Fireplace can help find the right unit to fit your home’s needs. We provide trustworthy, skilled air conditioner installation in Monroe.

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 scent that some people describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.

One other possible source of the smell could be problems with the electrical wiring or components inside the air conditioning system. This can produce a burning smell that resembles chemicals or burning plastic.

If you believe there is 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 dangerous and may require immediate attention to prevent injury or damage to your residence.

A Nasty Odor Coming from Your AC? Contact the Experts at Lanz Furnace and Fireplace

If your air conditioner smells nasty and you aren’t able to fix it easily on your own, call the cooling experts at Lanz Furnace and Fireplace. We have plenty of experience working with a wide variety of air conditioning systems. Our crew has fixed countless air conditioning problems throughout the years—including weird smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Monroe!