When your air conditioner starts putting out strange or unappealing smells, it is necessary to take notice because it could be a sign of a significant problem. Dismissing unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioning could lead to serious damage to your air conditioning or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on the smell, the culprit might be bacteria or fungus in the system. Other times, it could also sign something mechanically wrong with the AC. Some smells are even indicative of a harmful scenario, such as a natural gas leak.

At 1st Choice Heating & Air Conditioning, we are experienced at getting to the root cause of stinky smells. If you smell something odd coming from your AC, chances are our team of skilled pros has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned a reputation as the first call for air conditioning repair in Mission Viejo.

What does a certain smell coming coming from your AC mean? Here are several common air conditioner aromas and what they might mean:

Your AC Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it might be because of a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the unit. When moisture accumulates inside the unit, it can establish an environment that is favorable to the development of bacteria and fungus. This can result in a bad odor that is often described as smelling like stinky feet.

Another possible explanation for the stench of dirty feet may be a dirty air filter. When the air filter becomes filled with dirt, dust and other particles, it can lead to poor air quality and a musty smell that resembles feet.

To fix this problem, it’s important to have an experienced specialist 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 routinely to promote good air quality and restrict the development of bacteria and fungus.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioning equipment reeks of rotten eggs, it may be the result of a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a recognizable odor, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur, which is added to it to make it easily detectable.

A natural gas leak can be extremely dangerous and requires immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, immediately open windows and doors to air out the area, get everyone out of the building and call your gas company or emergency services immediately.

Your AC Smells Like Mildew

If your AC smells like mildew, it could be due to a accumulation of moisture inside the unit. When moisture forms inside the air conditioning system, it can foster the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty smell that it similar to mildew.

Another possible explanation for the smell may be a dirty air filter. If the air filter becomes clogged, it can cause poor air quality and a musty smell that is similar to mildew.

Regular air conditioning maintenance from 1st Choice Heating & Air Conditioning can help protect against both of these issues, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a terrific way to keep your system working at its best!

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Urine

One of the most unpleasant scenarios is when your AC smells like urine.

If your air conditioning equipment stinks like urine, it could could be caused by multiple factors. One possible cause is a collection of bacteria or mold in the air conditioning system. This can happen when moisture accumulates in the system and creates a moist environment that can promote bacterial growth. The bacteria can emit a foul odor that it similar to urine.

Another possible cause of the stink could be a clogged drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away properly, but if the drain line becomes choked with debris, it can cause water to back up and collect inside the unit. This can generate a musty smell that can stink like urine.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your air conditioner smells like burning plastic, it might be because of an electrical concern with the unit. After a while, the electrical parts in the air conditioning system can wear out or break, which can make a burning smell that resembles plastic.

Another possible cause of the smell could be a foreign object that somehow got in the the air conditioner. If something foreign gets stuck in the air conditioning system, it can get hot and result in a smell like burning plastic.

If you smell burning plastic coming from your cooling system, it’s important to phone a professional right away.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your AC smells like gas, it could be due to a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a recognizable aroma, often described as smelling of rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because an odor is incorporated into natural gas so that it is easily detectable.

As stated earlier, a natural gas leak can be VERY dangerous and requires immediate attention. When you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, open windows and doors to air out the home, evacuate the building and phone your gas company or emergency services straight away.

Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish

When your air conditioning equipment smell like fish, this could be a sign of a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture produces an environment that is conducive to the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a disgusting odor that is sometimes described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can result in a smell like dirty feet.

Another possible cause of the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material stuck in the air conditioning system. This often is possible if an animal such as a mouse or bird gets trapped inside the unit and dies.

To correct the issue, it’s worthwhile to have a professional inspect and clean your air conditioning system. They will be able to find the source of the smell and take the correct steps to remove any contaminants and stop the problem from recurring.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

There could be several reasons an air conditioner smells like vinegar. One possible cause of the smell could be a clogged air filter. One other potential cause of the smell may be a refrigerant leak. If the refrigerant leaks, it can generate a chemical odor that resembles vinegar.

To fix the issue, it’s beneficial to have a skilled mechanic examine and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor persists after the cleaning and exchanging the air filter, it’s best to reach back out to a professional to diagnose and repair any hidden issues with your air conditioning. Or, they can tell you if your air conditioning ought to be replaced.

If you are wanting to upgrade, 1st Choice Heating & Air Conditioning can help find the right unit to fit your home’s needs. We provide dependable, skilled air conditioner installation in Mission Viejo.

Your AC Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is emitting out of your air conditioner, it could be the result of a refrigerant leak. In a situation where the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that some people describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.

Another possible source of the smell could be something wrong with the electrical wiring or hardware inside the air conditioning system. This can cause a burning smell that resembles chemicals or burning plastic.

If you suspect a refrigerant leak or an electrical issue, it’s important to shut off your air conditioning system as soon as possible and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be dangerous and may require immediate attention to prevent injury or damage to your residence.

Strange Smell Coming from the Air Conditioning? Contact the Experts at 1st Choice Heating & Air Conditioning

If your air conditioner stinks and you aren’t able to fix it quickly on your own, contact the cooling experts at 1st Choice Heating & Air Conditioning. We have years of experience working with a wide variety of cooling systems. Our crew has fixed many air conditioning troubles throughout the years—including weird smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Mission Viejo!