When your air conditioner starts emitting unusual or gross aromas, it is necessary to take notice because it could be a sign of a big problem. Disregarding unpleasant smells coming from your cooling system can lead to serious damage to your air conditioning or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on the cause of the odor, the root of the problem may be bacteria or fungus in the system. Other times, it could also indicate something mechanically wrong with the AC. Some smells are a warning of an unsafe scenario, like a natural gas leak.

At Franklin's Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc, we are skilled at diagnosing and fixing these type of problems. If you smell something peculiar coming from your AC, chances are our team of skilled professionals has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned our reputation as the go-to team for air conditioning repair in Oxford.

What does a certain smell coming out of your air conditioning mean? Here are some frequent air conditioner odors and what they might mean:

Your AC Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it can be because of a buildup of bacteria or fungus inside of it. When moisture accumulates inside the unit, it can create an environment that is beneficial to the spread of bacteria and fungus. This can result in a nasty odor that is often described as smelling like feet.

Another likely explanation for the stench of dirty feet might be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes clogged with dirt, dust and other debris, it can lead to substandard air quality and a musty smell that resembles feet.

To solve this issue, it’s important to have a quality service tech 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 regularly to provide good air quality and restrict the development of bacteria and fungus.

Your AC Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, it may be because of a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a distinct 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 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, make everyone leave the building and call your gas company or emergency services at once.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew

If your cooling system is giving off an odor like mildew, it may be due to a accumulation of moisture inside the unit. When moisture collects inside the air conditioning system, it can promote the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty stench that resembles mildew.

Another possible explanation for the smell could be a soiled air filter. If the air filter becomes clogged, it can result in poor air quality and a musty smell that is similar to mildew.

Routine air conditioning maintenance from Franklin's Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc can help avoid both of these situations, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a very good way to keep your system running at its best!

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Urine

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

If your air conditioning reeks of urine, it could be due to a variety of factors. One likely cause is a collection 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 is conducive to bacterial growth. The bacteria can create a foul odor that some people describe as smelling like urine.

Another possible cause of the scent of urine could be a blocked drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away correctly, 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 is sometimes described as smelling of urine.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your air conditioner smells like burning plastic, it might be because of an electrical issue with the unit. After some time, the electrical components in the air conditioning system can wear out or malfunction, which can produce 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 caught in the air conditioning system, it can heat up and emit a smell that reminds people of burning plastic.

If you think you smell burning plastic coming from your AC unit, it’s worthwhile to phone a professional right away.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Gas

If your AC smells like gas, it could be because of a natural gas leak in the unit or in your home. Natural gas has a distinctive odor, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because this scent is added to natural gas so that it is easily detectable.

As mentioned earlier, a natural gas leak can be VERY dangerous and needs immediate attention. Should 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 right away.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish

When your air conditioning equipment smell like fish, this could be a sign of a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture causes an environment that promotes the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a disgusting odor that is sometimes described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can result in a smell like dirty feet.

Another plausible explanation for the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material trapped within the air conditioning system. This often is possible if an animal such as a mouse or bird becomes trapped inside the unit and dies.

To fix the issue, it’s often necessary to have a professional examine and clean your air conditioning system. They should be able to identify the source of the smell and take the correct steps to remove any contaminants and prevent the problem from recurring.

Your AC Smells Like Vinegar

There could be numerous reasons your air conditioning system smells like vinegar. One possible cause is a dirty air filter. Another potential cause of the smell could be a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can make a chemical odor that is similar to vinegar.

To fix the issue, it’s beneficial to have a skilled specialist examine 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 identify and repair any underlying issues with your air conditioning. Or, the tech can tell you if your air conditioning should be replaced.

If you are wanting to upgrade, Franklin's Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc can help select the correct unit to fit your home’s needs. We provide dependable, skilled air conditioner installation in Oxford.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is coming out of your air conditioning unit, it could be caused by a refrigerant leak. In a situation where the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical scent that is often described as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.

One other possible reason for the smell could be an issue with the electrical wiring or elements inside the air conditioning system. This can result in a burning smell that is like chemicals or burning plastic.

If you suspect a refrigerant leak or an electrical issue, it’s important to shut off your air conditioning system as soon as possible and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be hazardous and may require immediate attention to avoid injury or damage to your home.

A Nasty Odor Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at Franklin's Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc

If your air conditioner smells nasty and you aren’t able to fix it quickly on your own, reach out to the cooling professionals at Franklin's Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. We have plenty of experience working with a wide variety of AC systems. Our crew has fixed countless air conditioning troubles through the years—including strange smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Oxford!