6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Decoded and How to Repair the Problem

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is fresh and running correctly, it’s not normal to be smelling anything odd. Abnormal air conditioner noises and odd smells are a hint that something is wrong. If your air conditioner is past its prime or you haven’t had maintenance done lately, they can be an obvious sign you need skilled air conditioning repair in Bossier City.

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

1. Central Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If your air conditioner smells bad when turned on, especially a chemical odor, isn’t a great sign. You might also observe your:

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

These sweet, chemical smells are typically a hint that your air conditioner has a refrigerant leak. Your system relies on this gas to shift heat through copper coils, which can break out over time.

4 Clues You Are Dealing with a Refrigerant Leak

Besides the weird smell, here are four other signs that you are dealing with a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner is operating.
  2. Ice on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. It’s hard keeping your house cold or reaching your programmed temperature.
  4. High utility expenses.

How You Can Repair It

A refrigerant leak calls for skilled repairs from a heating and cooling company like Brooks Heating and Air Conditioning. Your cooling specialist will find and repair the leak before recharging your air conditioner with refrigerant.

Resolving a refrigerant leak usually costs between $225 and $1,600, per nationwide averages put together by HomeAdvisor. Your total cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how much time it takes to solve.

If your air conditioner was installed early than 2010, there’s a good chance it has R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being produced because of its damaging effects on the ozone layer. Consequently, repairs can be very expensive so it may be smartest to schedule air conditioning installation in this instance.

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 high chance you have a natural gas leak in your home. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to warn you when there’s a leak, since the gas can be deadly in large amounts.

How You Can Fix It

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

  • Turning off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Going outside as soon as possible.
  • Contacting your gas company immediately.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Homeowners who reach us to report this problem usually report their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it runs. Also referred to as dirty sock syndrome, this smell is often created by a grubby evaporator coil that has mold, mildew and bacteria buildup. Moisture can also make your home air conditioner smell bad. Dirty sock syndrome is most common in areas where you turn on heating at night and during the morning before transitioning to cooling later on.

How to Fix It

The best method for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to routinely change your air filter and schedule routine air conditioning maintenance with Brooks Heating and Air Conditioning. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system flowing, as stagnant water can also produce unpleasant odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are experiencing air conditioner mildew smell or a pungent, vinegar-like odor, it might be prompted by several issues, like:

  • A filthy filter
  • Too much condensation
  • Blocked condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Repair It

Check your filter first. If you haven’t changed it within the last three months and can’t see light through it, we recommend replacing it. If that doesn’t fix the smell, call Brooks Heating and Air Conditioning at 800-COOLING.

5. Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

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

  • Broken capacitator that’s overheating the motor.
  • Motor that should have lubrication.
  • Broken fan belt.
  • Electrical problem.

Electrical issues should be checked right away to prevent a fire. If you smell burning plastic when your air conditioner is operating, switch it off and contact us at 800-COOLING immediately.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

An overpowering ammonia odor means there may be mold present within your air conditioner or ductwork. The smell isn’t the mold itself, but the mycotoxins that mold creates.

How to Solve It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your well-being. That’s why we recommend having a pro like Brooks Heating and Air Conditioning check your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when necessary.

Our Pros Can Eliminate Strange Air Conditioner Smells Fast

You deserve to be comfy in your home and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are looking for relief from your noxious air conditioner, give us a call at 800-COOLING. We’ll diagnose the problem quickly and resolve it at a fair price.