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

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is spotless and working properly, it’s not normal to be smelling anything odd. Unexpected air conditioner noises and strange smells are a hint that something is off. If your air conditioner is old or you haven’t had maintenance completed within the last year, they can be a clear sign you need skilled air conditioning repair in Williamsport.

Here are six of the most frequent 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 odor, isn’t a good sign. You may also report 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 suffering from a refrigerant leak. Your system relies on this gas to transfer heat through copper coils, which can crack over time.

4 Clues You Are Dealing with a Refrigerant Leak

Aside from the strange smell, here are four other clues that you are dealing with 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 home cool or achieving your programmed temperature.
  4. Increasing utility costs.

How You Can Repair It

A refrigerant leak calls for professional assistance from a heating and cooling company like George Home Services. Your cooling pro will pinpoint and fix the leak before recharging your system with refrigerant.

Repairing a refrigerant leak usually costs between $225 and $1,600, according to nationwide averages assembled by HomeAdvisor. Your precise cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how long it needs to repair.

If your air conditioner was installed prior to 2010, there’s a high probability it uses R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being made due to its harmful effects on the ozone layer. As a result, repairs can be significantly expensive so it may be wisest to do air conditioning installation in this situation.

2. Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, there’s possibly nothing wrong with it. But there’s a high likelihood you have a natural gas leak in your house. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to alert you when there’s a leak, since the gas can be toxic in large amounts.

How You Can Solve It

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

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

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

People who contact us about this problem usually mention their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it’s running. Also known as dirty sock syndrome, this smell is frequently linked to a filthy 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 turn on heating at night and during the morning before transitioning to cooling later in the day.

How to Repair It

The best approach for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to regularly replace your air filter and schedule annual air conditioning maintenance with George Home Services. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unblocked, since standing water can also lead to unpleasant odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are living with air conditioner mildew smell or a strong, vinegar-like odor, it could be caused by several problems, including:

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

How to Solve It

Examine 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 problem, call George Home Services at 570-244-2510.

5. Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

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

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

Electrical issues should be examined right away to avoid a fire. If you detect burning plastic when your air conditioner is running, shut it off and contact us at 570-244-2510 right away.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

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

How to Solve It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your wellness. That’s why it’s important to have a pro like George Home Services examine your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when necessary.

Our Professionals Can Take Care of Weird Air Conditioner Smells Fast

You deserve to be cozy in your residence and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you need relief from your noxious air conditioner, contact us at 570-244-2510. We’ll figure out the trouble quickly and take care of it at a reasonable.