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6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Decoded and How to Fix Them

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is fresh and working properly, you shouldn’t be smelling anything weird. Unexpected air conditioner noises and weird smells are a hint that something is wrong. If your air conditioner is past its prime or you haven’t had service completed within the last year, they can be an obvious sign you need skilled air conditioning repair in Anchorage.

Here are six of the most frequent air conditioner smells and how you can repair them.

1. Central Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If your air conditioner smells bad when turned on, especially a chemical smell, isn’t a positive sign. You might also notice your:

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

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

4 Clues You Are Experiencing a Refrigerant Leak

Besides the odd smell, here are four other hints that you have a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner is on.
  2. Frost on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. Trouble keeping your residence cool or achieving your set temperature.
  4. Higher electrical costs.

How You Can Take Care of It

A refrigerant leak needs experienced assistance from a heating and cooling company like Discount Mechanical Heating & Plumbing Services. Your cooling technician will locate and fix the leak before recharging your air conditioner with refrigerant.

Fixing a refrigerant leak often costs between $225 and $1,600, based on nationwide averages compiled by HomeAdvisor. Your exact cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how long it takes to solve.

If your air conditioner was installed early than 2010, there’s a high probability it has R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being manufactured as a result of its harmful 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 situation.

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 house. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to signal you when there’s a leak, since the gas can be fatal 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.
  • Evacuating your home as soon as possible.
  • Getting in touch with your gas company without delay.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Individuals who call us about this issue often say 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 typically caused by a dirty 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 climates where you turn on heating at night and during the morning before switching to cooling later on.

How to Repair It

The best approach for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to frequently replace your air filter and schedule yearly air conditioning maintenance with Discount Mechanical Heating & Plumbing Services. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unblocked, since standing water can also result in nasty odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

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

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

How to Resolve It

Inspect your filter first. If you haven’t replaced it within the last three months and can’t see light through it, we recommend replacing it. If that doesn’t fix the issue, call Discount Mechanical Heating & Plumbing Services at 907-202-9798.

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 needs lubrication.
  • Broken fan belt.
  • Electrical issue.

Electrical malfunctions should be inspected right away to avoid a fire. If you detect burning plastic when your air conditioner is operating, switch it off and call us at 907-202-9798 immediately.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

An overpowering ammonia odor means there could be mold spreading inside 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 wellness. That’s why we recommend having a specialist like Discount Mechanical Heating & Plumbing Services examine your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when recommended.

Our Specialists Can Get Rid of Unpleasant Air Conditioner Smells Fast

You deserve to be comfortable in your house and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are looking for relief from your stinky air conditioner, give us a call at 907-202-9798. We’ll figure out the issue quickly and resolve it at a fair price.