6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Answered and How to Solve the Issue

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is fresh and working properly, you shouldn’t be smelling anything strange. Unexpected air conditioner noises and strange smells are a clue that something is wrong. If your air conditioner is getting older or you haven’t had maintenance completed lately, they can be an obvious sign you need skilled air conditioning repair in Cedar Rapids.

Here are six of the most frequent 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 could also notice your:

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

These sweet, chemical odors are frequently a hint that your air conditioner is experiencing a refrigerant leak. Your system needs this gas to shift heat through copper coils, which can crack as time goes on.

4 Clues You Are Experiencing a Refrigerant Leak

Aside from the odd smell, here are four other clues that you are experiencing a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner runs.
  2. Ice on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. Trouble keeping your residence cold or having your desired temperature.
  4. Higher utility expenses.

How You Can Take Care of It

A refrigerant leak requires professional repairs from a heating and cooling company like Ilten's Incorporated. Your cooling professional will locate and mend the leak before recharging your air conditioner with refrigerant.

Repairing a refrigerant leak often costs between $225 and $1,600, according to nationwide averages compiled by HomeAdvisor. Your precise 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 prior to 2010, there’s a high probability it has R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being produced as a result of its adverse effects on the ozone layer. Consequently, repairs can be significantly expensive so it may be smartest to do air conditioning installation in this instance.

2. Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, there’s likely nothing wrong with it. But there’s a good likelihood you have a natural gas leak in your residence. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to signal you when there’s a leak, because the gas can be deadly in heavy concentrations.

How You Can Solve It

If you smell a sulfur or rotten egg odor, we recommend:

  • Shutting off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Evacuating your home right away.
  • Call your gas company immediately.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Homeowners who reach us regarding this issue often share their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it runs. Also called dirty sock syndrome, this smell is usually caused 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 often seen in areas where you use heating at night and during the morning before switching to cooling later on.

How to Repair It

The best way to prevent dirty sock syndrome is to frequently change your air filter and schedule yearly air conditioning maintenance with Ilten's Incorporated. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unclogged, as excess water can also result in nasty odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are living with air conditioner mildew smell or an acidic, vinegar-like odor, it can be prompted by several situations, such as:

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

How to Resolve It

Examine your filter first. If you haven’t replaced it within the last three months and can’t see light through it, you should replace it. If that doesn’t resolve the smell, call Ilten's Incorporated at 319-208-3295.

5. Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

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

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

Electrical problems should be examined quickly to avoid a fire. If you smell burning plastic when your air conditioner is on, shut it off and reach us at 319-208-3295 without delay.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

A strong ammonia odor means there could be mold flourishing within your air conditioner or ductwork. The smell isn’t the mold itself, but the mycotoxins that mold produces.

How to Fix It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your health. That’s why we recommend having a professional like Ilten's Incorporated examine your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when needed.

Our Pros Can Eliminate Odd Air Conditioner Smells Rapidly

You deserve to be comfortable in your residence and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are looking for relief from your smelly air conditioner, reach us at 319-208-3295. We’ll diagnose the trouble quickly and fix it at a competitive.