When your air conditioner starts putting out weird or funky aromas, it is important to take notice because it could be a sign of a major problem. Disregarding unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioning could lead to additional damage to your HVAC system 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. In other cases, it could also sign something mechanically wrong with the air conditioning system. Some smells are a warning of a hazardous situation, such as a natural gas leak.

At Classic Air, we are experienced at getting to the root cause of stinky smells. If you smell something weird coming from your AC, chances are 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 Columbus.

What does a specific odor coming out of your cooling system mean? Here are a few typical air conditioner odors and what they may mean:

My Air Conditioner 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 beneficial to the spread of bacteria and fungus. This can cause a bad odor that is often described as smelling like feet.

Another potential reason for an odor of stinky feet could be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes filled with dirt, dust and other debris, it can result in substandard air quality and a musty smell that it similar to the smell of feet.

To correct 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 replace the air filter routinely to provide good air quality and restrict the growth of bacteria and fungus.

Your AC Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioning unit 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 unique 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 can be extremely 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 emits a smell like mildew, it might be due to a buildup of moisture inside the unit. When moisture accumulates inside the air conditioning system, it can foster the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty smell that it similar to mildew.

Another possible explanation for the smell might be a clogged air filter. Once the air filter becomes clogged, it can lead to poor air quality and a musty smell that has a resemblance to mildew.

Routine air conditioning maintenance from Classic Air can help protect against both of these problems, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a very good way to keep your system operating at its best!

Your AC Smells Like Urine

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

If your air conditioning equipment smells like urine, it could be due to a variety of factors. One likely cause is a collection of bacteria or mold in the air conditioning system. This can happen when moisture accumulates in the system and creates a wet environment that is conducive to bacterial growth. The bacteria can emit a foul odor that resembles urine.

Another potential cause of the stink could be a blocked drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away effectively, but if the drain line becomes stopped up by debris, it can cause water to back up and build up inside the unit. This can produce a musty smell that is sometimes described as smelling of urine.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your air conditioner smells like burning plastic, a possible cause could be an electrical concern with the unit. Over time, the electrical elements in the air conditioning system can wear out or malfunction, 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 get hot and result in a smell similar to burning plastic.

If you notice something that smells like burning plastic coming from your AC unit, it’s important to phone 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 another part of your home. Natural gas has a distinctive odor, 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 we said previously, a natural gas leak can be VERY hazardous and needs immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, open windows and doors to air out the home, evacuate the building and phone your gas company or emergency services as soon as possible.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Fish

If your air conditioner smell like fish, this could be a sign of a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture creates an environment that is conducive to the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a disgusting 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 trapped in 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 important to have a professional check out and clean your cooling system. They will be able to identify the source of the smell and take the correct steps to remove any contaminants and prevent the problem from recurring.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

There could be numerous reasons your air conditioner smells like vinegar. One possible cause might be a plugged air filter. One other potential cause of the smell might be a refrigerant leak. Sometimes after the refrigerant leaks, it can make a chemical odor that resembles vinegar.

To fix the issue, it’s important to have a skilled mechanic 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 underlying issues with your air conditioning. Or, the tech can tell you if your air conditioning needs to be replaced.

If you are wanting to upgrade, Classic Air can help find the ideal unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer trustworthy, skilled air conditioner installation in Columbus.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Chemicals

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

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

If you believe there is a refrigerant leak or an electrical concern, it’s important to turn 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 protect against injury or damage to your house.

Weird Smells Coming from Your Cooling? Contact the Experts at Classic Air

If your air conditioner smells nasty and you aren’t able to fix it easily on your own, reach out to the cooling specialists at Classic Air. We have years of experience working with a wide variety of HVAC systems. Our crew has fixed a multitude of air conditioning concerns over the years—including funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Columbus!