When your air conditioner starts putting out unusual or gross smells, it is important to take notice because it could be a sign of a major problem. Disregarding unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioner can 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 cause may be bacteria or fungus in the system. On the other hand, it could also sign something mechanically wrong with the AC. Some smells are a warning of an unsafe problem, including a natural gas leak.

At H&C Heating and Cooling, we are skilled at diagnosing and fixing these type of problems. If you smell something peculiar coming from your AC, there's a good chance our team of talented specialists has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned a reputation as the premier company for air conditioning repair in Laurel.

What does a particular smell billowing out of your air conditioning mean? Here are a few common air conditioner odors and what they may mean:

Your AC Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it could be because of a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the system. When moisture builds inside the unit, it can establish an environment that is beneficial to the development of bacteria and fungus. This can cause a nasty 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 lead to substandard air quality and a musty smell that resembles feet.

To correct this dilemma, 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 replace the air filter regularly to provide good air quality and restrict the growth of bacteria and fungus.

Your AC Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioning unit stinks like rotten eggs, it might be due to a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a distinct odor, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur, which is added to it to make it easily detectable.

A natural gas leak is a situation that is 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, make everyone leave 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 collection 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 stench that bears a resemblance to mildew.

Another possible reason for the smell could be a dirty air filter. Once the air filter becomes clogged, it can lead to poor air quality and a musty smell that has a resemblance to mildew.

Annual air conditioning maintenance from H&C Heating and Cooling can help prevent both of these issues, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a great way to keep your system operating at its best!

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine

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

If your air conditioning equipment stinks like urine, it could be due to a variety of factors. One likely cause is a buildup of bacteria or mold in the air conditioning system. This can happen when moisture accumulates in the system and creates a damp environment that is conducive to bacterial growth. The bacteria can produce a foul odor that resembles urine.

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

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your air conditioning unit smells like burning plastic, it might be because of an electrical concern with the unit. Over 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 cause of the smell could be a foreign object stuck in the unit. If something foreign gets trapped in the air conditioning system, it can heat up and emit a smell that reminds people of burning plastic.

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

Your AC 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 like rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because an odor is put into natural gas to make sure that it is easily detectable.

As we said earlier, a natural gas leak can be VERY harmful and requires immediate attention. Should 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 air conditioning equipment smell like fish, it could be due to a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture causes an environment that fosters the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a strong odor that can be described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can create a smell like dirty feet.

Another plausible explanation for the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material trapped in the air conditioning system. This often can happen if an animal such as a mouse or bird is trapped inside the unit and dies.

To solve the issue, it's important to have a professional examine and clean your air conditioning system. They will be able to determine the source of the smell and take the appropriate steps to remove any contaminants and stop the problem from recurring.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Vinegar

There could be multiple reasons your air conditioning system smells like vinegar. One possible cause of the smell could be a dirty air filter. A second potential cause of the smell might 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 tech examine and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor continues after the cleaning and changing of the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to find and repair any underlying issues with your air conditioning. Or, they can tell you if your air conditioning needs to be replaced.

If you are looking to upgrade, H&C Heating and Cooling can help select the ideal unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer reliable, professional air conditioner installation in Laurel.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

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

Another possible cause of the smell could be a problem with the electrical wiring or elements inside the air conditioning system. This can cause a burning smell that is like chemicals or burning plastic.

If you suspect a refrigerant leak or an electrical concern, it's important to turn off your air conditioning system right away 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 Your Cooling? Contact the Experts at H&C Heating and Cooling

If your air conditioner smells nasty and you aren’t able to fix it quickly on your own, contact the cooling specialists at H&C Heating and Cooling. We have plenty of experience working with a wide variety of cooling systems. Our crew has fixed many air conditioning problems throughout the years—including funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Laurel!