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6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Decoded and How to Solve Them

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is spotless and operating properly, you shouldn’t be smelling anything weird. Unexpected air conditioner noises and strange smells are a hint that something is off. If your air conditioner is getting older or you haven’t had maintenance done recently, they can be an obvious sign you need skilled air conditioning repair in San Jose.

Here are six of the most common air conditioner smells and how you can solve them.

1. Central Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If your air conditioner smells bad when turned on, particularly a chemical scent, isn’t a great sign. You may also notice your:

  • Air conditioner smells like paint thinner
  • Home air conditioner smells sweet

These sweet, chemical odors are often a clue that your air conditioner is suffering from a refrigerant leak. Your system needs this gas to transfer heat through copper coils, which can wear out as time passes.

4 Signs You Are Experiencing a Refrigerant Leak

Besides the strange smell, here are four other clues that you have a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner runs.
  2. Ice crystals on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. Trouble keeping your home comfortable or reaching your set temperature.
  4. Higher utility costs.

How You Can Repair It

A refrigerant leak needs experienced assistance from a heating and cooling company like American HVAC Inc. Your cooling specialist will find and fix the leak before recharging your AC with refrigerant.

Fixing a refrigerant leak typically costs between $225 and $1,600, per nationwide averages assembled by HomeAdvisor. Your precise cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how long it requires to fix.

If your air conditioner was installed prior to 2010, there’s a good chance it uses R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being produced due to its adverse effects on the ozone layer. As a consequence, repairs can be extremely expensive so it may be best to consider air conditioning installation in this circumstance.

2. Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, there’s probably nothing wrong with it. But there’s a significant probability you have a natural gas leak in your residence. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to warn you when there’s a leak, as the gas can be deadly in large amounts.

How You Can Fix It

If you notice a sulfur or rotten egg odor, we advise:

  • Shutting off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Going outside promptly.
  • Call your gas company now.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Individuals who call us regarding this issue usually share their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it’s on. Also known as dirty sock syndrome, this smell is frequently created by a filthy evaporator coil that has mold, mildew and bacteria buildup. Condensation can also make your home air conditioner smell bad. Dirty sock syndrome is most often seen in areas where you use heating at night and during the morning before switching to cooling during the afternoon.

How to Repair It

The best method for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to regularly get a new air filter and schedule regular air conditioning maintenance with American HVAC Inc. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unblocked, because standing water can also create nasty odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are experiencing air conditioner mildew smell or a pungent, vinegar-like odor, it might be the result of several situations, such as:

  • A clogged filter
  • Excess condensation
  • Clogged condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Repair It

Check your filter first. If you haven’t put in a new one within the last three months and can’t see light through it, it’s time to replace it. If that doesn’t solve the issue, call American HVAC Inc at 408-215-1018.

5. Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If you’re dealing with an air conditioner burning smell or that your air conditioner smells like fish, there could be a couple of things wrong. These include:

  • Broken capacitator that’s overheating the motor.
  • Motor that needs lubrication.
  • Broken fan belt.
  • Electrical malfunctions.

Electrical issues should be examined quickly to stop a fire. If you notice burning plastic when your air conditioner is operating, turn it off and contact us at 408-215-1018 right away.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

A powerful ammonia odor means there may be mold flourishing in your air conditioner or ductwork. The smell isn’t the mold itself, but the mycotoxins that mold makes.

How to Repair It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your wellness. That’s why we recommend having a specialist like American HVAC Inc examine your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when recommended.

Our Specialists Can Take Care of Strange Air Conditioner Smells Fast

You deserve to be cozy in your residence and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are seeking relief from your stinky air conditioner, contact us at 408-215-1018. We’ll diagnose the problem quickly and resolve it at a competitive.