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6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Answered and How to Repair Them

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is clean and operating correctly, you shouldn’t be smelling anything strange. Unusual air conditioner noises and weird smells are a hint that something is up. If your air conditioner is getting older or you haven’t had a tune-up scheduled lately, they can be a sure sign you need pro air conditioning repair in Carpentersville.

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

1. Central Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

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

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

These sweet, chemical odors are often a hint that your air conditioner is suffering from a refrigerant leak. Your system relies on this gas to transfer heat through copper coils, which can wear out as time goes on.

4 Hints You Are Dealing with a Refrigerant Leak

In addition to the strange smell, here are four other signs that you have a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner runs.
  2. Ice on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. Difficulty keeping your home cool or having your programmed temperature.
  4. Increasing electrical bills.

How You Can Repair It

A refrigerant leak calls for professional assistance from a heating and cooling company like Controlled Comfort HVAC Inc. Your cooling professional will locate and repair the leak before recharging your system with refrigerant.

Fixing a refrigerant leak typically 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 repair.

If your air conditioner was installed before 2010, there’s a high probability it has R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being manufactured due to its harmful effects on the ozone layer. As a consequence, 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 probably nothing wrong with it. But there’s a significant probability you have a natural gas leak in your house. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to warn you when there’s a leak, as the gas can be fatal in large amounts.

How You Can Repair It

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

  • Shutting off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Evacuating your home as soon as possible.
  • Contacting your gas company now.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Individuals who reach us regarding this problem often report their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it runs. Also known as dirty sock syndrome, this smell is usually created by a grubby evaporator coil that has mold, mildew and bacteria buildup. Condensation can also make your home air conditioner smell bad. Dirty sock syndrome is most common in climates where you use heating at night and during the morning before switching to cooling later in the day.

How to Fix It

The best approach for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to frequently change your air filter and schedule regular air conditioning maintenance with Controlled Comfort HVAC Inc. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system flowing, as standing water can also create unpleasant odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are living with air conditioner mildew smell or a pungent, vinegar-like odor, it might be caused by several situations, such as:

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

How to Solve It

Check your filter first. If you haven’t put in a new one within the last three months and can’t see light through it, you should replace it. If that doesn’t solve the smell, reach Controlled Comfort HVAC Inc at 224-412-8308.

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 trouble.

Electrical malfunctions should be checked quickly to stop a fire. If you detect burning plastic when your air conditioner is on, turn it off and reach us at 224-412-8308 immediately.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

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

How to Fix It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your health. That’s why we recommend having a pro like Controlled Comfort HVAC Inc 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 residence and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are looking for relief from your noxious air conditioner, give us a call at 224-412-8308. We’ll determine the issue quickly and take care of it at a reasonable.