When your air conditioner starts emitting unusual or gross odors, it is necessary to take notice because it could be a sign of a major problem. Ignoring unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioner could lead to additional damage to your AC or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on the cause of the odor, the culprit may be bacteria or fungus in the system. Other times, it could also sign something mechanically wrong with the air conditioning system. Some smells are a warning of a dangerous scenario, like a natural gas leak.

At Covington Air Systems, we have a nose for these sorts of things. If you smell something peculiar coming from your air conditioner, you can bet that our team of qualified specialists has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned a reputation as the premier company for air conditioning repair in Covington.

What does a particular smell coming from your AC mean? Here are a few typical air conditioner aromas and what they may mean:

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet

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

Another potential explanation for an odor of stinky feet might be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes clogged with dirt, dust and other contaminants, it can result in substandard air quality and a musty smell that bears a resemblance to feet.

To solve 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 on a regular basis to promote good air quality and prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs

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

A natural gas leak 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, make everyone leave the building and call your gas company or emergency services right away.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Mildew

If your air conditioner is giving off an odor like mildew, it might be due to a buildup of moisture inside the unit. When moisture collects inside an air conditioner, it can cultivate the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty smell that resembles mildew.

Another possible cause of the smell could be a clogged air filter. When the air filter becomes clogged, it can result in poor air quality and a musty smell that is similar to mildew.

Annual air conditioning maintenance from Covington Air Systems can help avoid both of these issues, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a very good way to keep your system operating at its best!

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine

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

If your air conditioning reeks of urine, it could be traced back to a number of things. One possible cause is a buildup of bacteria or mold in the air conditioning system. This can happen if moisture accumulates in the system and creates a wet environment that can promote bacterial growth. The bacteria can produce a foul odor that is like urine.

Another feasible cause of the smell could be a blocked drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away correctly, but if the drain line becomes stopped up by debris, it can cause water to back up and collect inside the unit. This can generate a musty smell that resembles urine.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your air conditioner smells like burning plastic, a possible cause could be an electrical concern with the unit. Over time, the electrical components in the air conditioning system can wear out or break, which can make a burning smell that resembles plastic.

Another possible reason for the smell could be a foreign object lodged in the the air conditioner. If something foreign gets trapped in the air conditioning system, it can become hot and cause a smell like burning plastic.

If you smell burning plastic coming from your AC unit, it’s essential to contact a professional right away.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Gas

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

As we said previously, a natural gas leak can be VERY hazardous and needs immediate attention. If 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 straight away.

Your AC 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 produces an environment that promotes the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a disgusting odor that can be described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can result in a smell like dirty feet.

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

To correct the issue, it's often necessary to have a professional examine and clean your air conditioning system. They will be able to identify the source of the smell and take the proper steps to remove any contaminants and keep the problem from recurring.

Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

There could be several reasons an air conditioning system smells like vinegar. One possible cause is a clogged air filter. A second likely cause of the smell may be a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can make a chemical odor that is similar to vinegar.

To fix the issue, it's essential to have a skilled tech look at 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 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 planning to upgrade, Covington Air Systems can help locate the ideal unit to fit your home’s needs. We provide dependable, expert air conditioner installation in Covington.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is coming from your air conditioning equipment, it could be due to a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical scent that people sometimes describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.

An additional possible reason for the smell could be a problem with the electrical wiring or components inside the air conditioning system. This can result in a burning smell that resembles chemicals or burning plastic.

If you suspect a refrigerant leak or an electrical problem, 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 harmful and may require immediate attention to protect against injury or damage to your residence.

Strange Smell Coming from the Air Conditioning? Call the Pros at Covington Air Systems

If your air conditioner reeks and you aren’t able to fix it simply on your own, contact the cooling professionals at Covington Air Systems. We have plenty of experience working with a wide variety of cooling systems. Our crew has fixed countless air conditioning troubles over the years—including strange smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Covington!