When your air conditioner starts spewing weird or funky smells, it is a good idea to take notice because it could be a sign of a major problem. Dismissing unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioning could lead to further damage to your HVAC system or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on the smell, the cause could be bacteria or fungus in the system. Other times, it could also indicate something mechanically wrong with the air conditioner. Some smells are a sign of a harmful problem, such as a natural gas leak.

At H & H Service Company, we are experienced at getting to the root cause of stinky smells. If you smell something peculiar coming from your cooling system, you can bet that our team of qualified pros has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned our reputation as the go-to team for air conditioning repair in Mechanicsburg.

What does a particular smell wafting from your air conditioning mean? Here are a few common air conditioner odors and what they might mean:

Your AC Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it may be due to a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the unit. When moisture builds inside the unit, it can create an environment that is conducive to the development of bacteria and fungus. This can cause a foul odor that is often described as smelling like feet.

Another likely explanation for the stench of dirty feet may be a dirty air filter. When the air filter becomes choked with dirt, dust and other debris, it can result in low air quality and a musty smell that resembles feet.

To fix this issue, it's important to have a professional inspect and clean your air conditioning system, including the evaporator coil, drain pan and condensate drain line. It's also important to exchange the air filter regularly to promote good air quality and protect against the development of bacteria and fungus.

Your AC Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your reeks of rotten eggs, it could 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, which is because of a substance added to it to make it easily detectable.

A natural gas leak is a situation that is extraordinarily 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 right away.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew

If your AC is giving off an odor like mildew, it might be due to a buildup of moisture inside the unit. When moisture forms inside a cooling system, it can promote the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty odor that it similar to mildew.

Another possible explanation for the smell could be a soiled air filter. If the air filter becomes clogged, it can cause poor air quality and a musty smell that has a resemblance to mildew.

Regular air conditioning maintenance from H & H Service Company can help avoid both of these issues, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a very good way to keep your system running at its best!

Your AC Smells Like Urine

One of the most unpleasant situations is when the air coming out of your HVAC system smells like urine.

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

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

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your air conditioning unit smells like burning plastic, this could indicate an electrical issue with the unit. After some time, the electrical components in the air conditioning system can wear out or bust, which can create a burning smell that resembles plastic.

Another possible reason for the smell could be a foreign object that somehow got in the unit. If something foreign gets trapped in the air conditioning system, it can get hot and cause a smell like burning plastic.

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

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like gas, it could be due to a natural gas leak in the unit or in your home. Natural gas has a distinctive odor, often described as smelling of rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because a smell is added to natural gas to make it easily detectable.

As we said earlier, a natural gas leak can be VERY hazardous and calls for 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.

Your AC Smells Like Fish

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

Another possible cause of the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material stuck within the air conditioning system. This often can take place 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 check out and clean your air conditioning system. They can determine the source of the smell and take the correct steps to remove any contaminants and prevent the problem from recurring.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Vinegar

There could be numerous reasons a home's air conditioner smells like vinegar. One possible cause is a clogged air filter. Another possible cause of the smell may be a refrigerant leak. If the refrigerant leaks, it can make a chemical odor that is similar to vinegar.

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

If you are planning to upgrade, H & H Service Company can help select the correct unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer reliable, skilled air conditioner installation in Mechanicsburg.

Your AC Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is emitting out of your air conditioning equipment, it could be due to a refrigerant leak. If the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that some people describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.

One other possible reason for the smell could be something wrong with the electrical wiring or components inside the air conditioning system. This can result in a burning smell that is like chemicals or burning plastic.

If you believe there is 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 harmful and may require immediate attention to protect against injury or damage to your residence.

Strange Smell Coming from Your Cooling? Call the Pros at H & H Service Company

If your air conditioner stinks and you aren’t able to fix it smoothly on your own, reach out to the cooling professionals at H & H Service Company. We have lots of experience working with a wide variety of AC systems. Our crew has fixed a multitude of air conditioning problems throughout the years—including weird smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Mechanicsburg!