When your air conditioner starts putting out odd or funky smells, it is necessary to take notice because it could be a sign of a significant problem. Ignoring unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioner may lead to additional damage to your HVAC system or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on the cause of the odor, the root of the problem could be bacteria or fungus in the system. In other cases, it could also indicate something mechanically wrong with the air conditioning system. Some smells are a warning of a harmful scenario, such as a natural gas leak.

At Bishop’s HVAC, we are experienced at getting to the root cause of stinky smells. If you smell something weird coming from your AC, you can bet that our team of talented specialists has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned our reputation as the premier company for air conditioning repair in Sacramento.

What does a specific odor billowing coming from your AC mean? Here are several typical air conditioner odors and what they might mean:

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it may be caused by a buildup of bacteria or fungus inside of it. When moisture accumulates inside the unit, it can produce an environment that is favorable to the growth of bacteria and fungus. This can cause a bad odor that is often described as smelling like feet.

Another possible reason for the stench of dirty feet might be a dirty air filter. When your HVAC system’s air filter becomes filled with dirt, dust and other particles, it can cause low air quality and a musty smell that bears a resemblance to feet.

To fix this unpleasant situation, 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 on a regular basis to provide good air quality and restrict the growth of bacteria and fungus.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioning unit smells like rotten eggs, it might be because of a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a unique odor, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur, that 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 allow gas to escape the area, evacuate the building and call your gas company or emergency services immediately.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew

If your cooling system emits a smell like mildew, it could be due to a buildup of moisture inside the unit. When moisture forms inside an air conditioner, it can promote the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty stench that bears a resemblance to mildew.

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

Annual air conditioning maintenance from Bishop’s HVAC can help prevent both of these situations, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a terrific way to keep your system running at its best!

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Urine

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

If your air conditioning smells like urine, it could be traced back to a number of things. One possible cause is a accumulation of bacteria or mold in the air conditioning system. This can happen when moisture accumulates in the system and creates a damp environment that favorable for bacterial growth. The bacteria can produce a foul odor that is like urine.

Another potential cause of the smell could be a plugged drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away effectively, but if the drain line becomes choked with debris, it can cause water to back up and accumulate inside the unit. This can create a musty smell that resembles urine.

Your AC Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your air conditioning system smells like burning plastic, this could indicate an electrical issue with the unit. Over time, the electrical elements in the air conditioning system can wear out or malfunction, which can make a burning smell that resembles plastic.

Another possible cause of the smell could be a foreign object stuck in the HVAC system. If something foreign gets trapped in the air conditioning system, it can heat up and cause a smell similar to burning plastic.

If you smell burning plastic coming from your air conditioner, it’s essential to call a professional right away.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like gas, there could be 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 this scent is added to natural gas to make it easily detectable.

As we said earlier, a natural gas leak can be VERY dangerous and needs immediate attention. When you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, open windows and doors to air out the home, leave the building and call your gas company or emergency services right away.

Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish

If your AC smell like fish, this could be a sign of a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture causes 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 create 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 is possible if an animal such as a mouse or bird gets trapped inside the unit and dies.

To fix the issue, it’s often necessary to have a professional inspect and clean your cooling system. They will be able to determine the source of the smell and take the proper steps to remove any contaminants and keep the problem from recurring.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

There could be several reasons a home’s air conditioner smells like vinegar. One possible cause of the smell could be a clogged air filter. Another potential cause of the smell might be a refrigerant leak. If the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that resembles vinegar.

To fix the issue, it’s essential to have a skilled tech examine and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor continues after the cleaning and replacing of the air filter, it’s best to reach back out to a professional to identify and repair any hidden issues with your air conditioning. Or, they can tell you if your air conditioning should be replaced.

If you are wanting to upgrade, Bishop’s HVAC can help select the correct unit to fit your home’s needs. We deliver dependable, skilled air conditioner installation in Sacramento.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is coming from your air conditioning unit, it could be caused by a refrigerant leak. In a situation where the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that is often described as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.

One other possible source of the smell could be problems with the electrical wiring or parts 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 down your air conditioning system immediately and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be hazardous and may require immediate attention to prevent injury or damage to your residence.

Weird Smells Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at Bishop’s HVAC

If your air conditioner smells nasty and you aren’t able to fix it easily on your own, reach out to the cooling professionals at Bishop’s HVAC. We have lots of experience working with a wide variety of air conditioning systems. Our crew has fixed many air conditioning troubles through the years—including strange smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Sacramento!