When your air conditioner starts putting out strange or gross odors, it is a good idea to take notice because it could be a sign of a major problem. Disregarding unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioner could lead to further damage to your air conditioning or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on the smell, the cause might be bacteria or fungus in the system. On the other hand, it could also signal something mechanically wrong with the AC. Some smells are even indicative of a harmful scenario, including a natural gas leak.

At Northern Comfort Inc, we are skilled at diagnosing and fixing these type of problems. If you smell something peculiar coming from your air conditioner, chances are our team of skilled specialists has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned our reputation as the first call for air conditioning repair in Mankato area.

What does a specific odor wafting out of your cooling system mean? Here are several typical air conditioner odors and what they may mean:

Your AC Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it might be due to a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the unit. When moisture collects inside the unit, it can produce an environment that is beneficial to the development of bacteria and fungus. This can cause a nasty odor that is often described as smelling like feet.

Another likely cause of the stench of dirty feet could be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes choked with dirt, dust and other particles, it can lead to low air quality and a musty smell that resembles feet.

To correct this dilemma, 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 change the air filter regularly to provide good air quality and restrict the formation of bacteria and fungus.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioning equipment 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 added to it to make it easily detectable.

A natural gas leak 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 ventilate the area, evacuate the building and call your gas company or emergency services at once.

Your AC Smells Like Mildew

If your cooling system emits a smell like mildew, it might be due to a accumulation of moisture inside the unit. When moisture forms inside the air conditioning system, it can promote the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty odor that bears a resemblance to mildew.

Another possible cause of the smell might be a clogged air filter. When the air filter becomes clogged, it can lead to poor air quality and a musty smell that is similar to mildew.

Routine air conditioning maintenance from Northern Comfort Inc can help protect against both of these issues, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a great way to keep your system running at its best!

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine

One of the most undesirable situations is when your AC smells like urine.

If your air conditioning reeks of urine, it could be due to a variety of factors. One potential cause is a collection of bacteria or mold in the air conditioning system. This can happen if moisture accumulates in the system and creates a wet environment that can promote bacterial growth. The bacteria can produce a foul odor that it similar to urine.

Another possible cause of the smell could be a clogged 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 accumulate 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 AC smells like burning plastic, a possible cause could be an electrical problem with the unit. After a while, the electrical parts in the air conditioning system can wear out or bust, which can make a burning smell that resembles plastic.

Another possible reason for the smell could be a foreign object lodged in the the air conditioner. If something foreign gets caught in the air conditioning system, it can heat up and emit a smell similar to burning plastic.

If you notice something that smells like burning plastic coming from your cooling system, it’s worthwhile to phone a professional right away.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Gas

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

As we said previously, a natural gas leak can be VERY hazardous 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, get everyone out of the building and call your gas company or emergency services straight away.

Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish

Should your air conditioning equipment smell like fish, you may have a situation where there's a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture produces an environment that fosters the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a disgusting odor that can be described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can cause a smell like dirty feet.

Another potential cause of the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material caught within the air conditioning system. This often can happen if an animal such as a mouse or bird is trapped inside the unit and dies.

To correct the issue, it's important to have a professional examine and clean your HVAC system. They should be able to find the source of the smell and take the appropriate steps to remove any contaminants and keep the problem from recurring.

Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

There could be multiple reasons an air conditioner smells like vinegar. One possible cause might be a clogged air filter. A second possible cause of the smell might be a refrigerant leak. Sometimes after the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that is described as smelling of vinegar.

To fix the issue, it's important to have a skilled tech inspect and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor continues after the cleaning and exchanging the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to find and repair any persistent issues with your air conditioning. Or, they can tell you if your air conditioning ought to be replaced.

If you are looking to upgrade, Northern Comfort Inc can help locate the ideal unit to fit your home’s needs. We provide reliable, expert air conditioner installation in Mankato area.

Your AC Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is coming from your air conditioner, it could be caused by a refrigerant leak. When 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 cause of 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 resembles chemicals or burning plastic.

If you suspect a refrigerant leak or an electrical problem, it's important to turn off your air conditioning system right away and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be hazardous and may require immediate attention to protect against injury or damage to your residence.

Strange Smell Coming from the Air Conditioning? Contact the Experts at Northern Comfort Inc

If your air conditioner smells nasty and you aren’t able to fix it simply on your own, call the cooling professionals at Northern Comfort Inc. We have years of experience working with a wide variety of HVAC systems. Our crew has fixed a multitude of air conditioning troubles throughout the years—including strange smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Mankato area!