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

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is fresh and running right, you shouldn’t be smelling anything strange. Unusual air conditioner noises and odd smells are a hint that something is out of whack. If your air conditioner is old or you haven’t had a tune-up completed recently, they can be a sure sign you need professional air conditioning repair in Magnolia.

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

1. Central Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

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

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

These sweet, chemical odors are typically a sign that your air conditioner is experiencing a refrigerant leak. Your system uses this gas to move heat through copper coils, which can crack as time passes.

4 Hints You Are Experiencing a Refrigerant Leak

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

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner is operating.
  2. Frost on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. It’s hard keeping your house cool or having your programmed temperature.
  4. Increasing electrical expenses.

How You Can Fix It

A refrigerant leak needs experienced repairs from a heating and cooling company like JTech Mechanical. Your cooling professional will locate and fix the leak before recharging your air conditioner with refrigerant.

Resolving a refrigerant leak typically costs between $225 and $1,600, based on nationwide averages put together by HomeAdvisor. Your total cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how many hours it needs to repair.

If your air conditioner was installed prior to 2010, there’s a high probability it runs on R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being manufactured as a result of its harmful effects on the ozone layer. Due to this, repairs can be significantly expensive so it may be wisest to consider air conditioning installation in this circumstance.

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

How You Can Repair It

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

  • Switching off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Going outside as soon as possible.
  • Call your gas company now.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Individuals who reach us regarding this situation often report their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it’s on. Also called dirty sock syndrome, this smell is typically 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 often seen in areas where you turn on heating at night and during the morning before turning on cooling during the afternoon.

How to Solve It

The best way to prevent dirty sock syndrome is to routinely get a new air filter and schedule annual air conditioning maintenance with JTech Mechanical. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unblocked, since standing 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 could be caused by several issues, like:

  • A filthy filter
  • Extra condensation
  • Clogged condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Fix It

Check your filter first. If you haven’t changed it within the last three months and can’t see light through it, you should replace it. If that doesn’t solve the problem, reach JTech Mechanical at 281-231-8768.

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 include:

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

Electrical problems should be inspected right away to prevent a fire. If you notice burning plastic when your air conditioner is operating, shut it off and contact us at 281-231-8768 immediately.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

An overpowering ammonia odor means there might be mold growing in your air conditioner or ductwork. The smell isn’t the mold itself, but the mycotoxins that mold makes.

How to Solve It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your well-being. That’s why it’s important to have a pro like JTech Mechanical look at your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when necessary.

Our Specialists Can Take Care of Odd Air Conditioner Smells Fast

You deserve to be cozy in your home and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are seeking relief from your stinky air conditioner, contact us at 281-231-8768. We’ll figure out the issue quickly and resolve it at a competitive.