When your air conditioner starts putting out odd or unappealing odors, it is a good idea to take notice because it could be a sign of a major problem. Disregarding 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 smell, the cause could be bacteria or fungus in the system. Other times, it could also sign something mechanically wrong with the air conditioning system. Some smells are even indicative of a harmful problem, like a natural gas leak.

At Woody's Sudden Service, we have a nose for these sorts of things. If you smell something odd coming from your air conditioner, 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 Manassas.

What does a particular smell coming out of your air conditioning mean? Here are several common air conditioner smells and what they might mean:

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it could be because of a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the unit. When moisture builds inside the unit, it can produce 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 smell may be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes clogged with dirt, dust and other debris, it can result in substandard air quality and a musty smell that bears a resemblance to feet.

To fix this problem, 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 replace the air filter regularly to promote good air quality and restrict the growth of bacteria and fungus.

Your AC Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioning equipment stinks like rotten eggs, it could be caused by 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 very 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 at once.

Your AC Smells Like Mildew

If your air conditioner smells like mildew, it could be due to a collection of moisture inside the unit. When moisture forms inside the air conditioning system, it can promote the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty odor that resembles mildew.

Another possible reason for the smell might be a dirty air filter. If 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 Woody's Sudden Service can help protect against 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!

The Air Conditioning 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 reeks of urine, it could could be caused by multiple factors. One potential cause is a buildup of bacteria or mold in the your cooling system. This can happen if moisture accumulates in the system and creates a damp environment that is conducive to bacterial growth. The bacteria can emit a foul odor that some people describe as smelling like urine.

Another possible cause of the smell 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 stopped up by debris, it can cause water to back up and accumulate inside the unit. This can generate a musty smell that is sometimes described as smelling of urine.

Your AC Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your air conditioner smells like burning plastic, a possible cause could be an electrical problem with the unit. After a while, the electrical elements 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 lodged in the HVAC system. If something foreign gets trapped in the air conditioning system, it can heat up and result in a smell similar to burning plastic.

If you think you smell burning plastic coming from your cooling system, it’s essential to phone 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 another part of your home. Natural gas has a distinctive odor, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because this scent is added to natural gas so that it is easily detectable.

As mentioned previously, a natural gas leak can be VERY dangerous and calls for immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, open windows and doors to air out the home, evacuate the building and contact your gas company or emergency services straight away.

Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish

When your air conditioner 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 create a smell like dirty feet.

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

To correct the issue, it's important to have a professional check out and clean your cooling system. They should be able to determine the source of the smell and take the proper steps to remove any contaminants and stop the problem from recurring.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

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

To fix the issue, it's beneficial 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 find and repair any hidden issues with your air conditioning. Or, the tech can tell you if your air conditioning needs to be replaced.

If you are looking to upgrade, Woody's Sudden Service can help find the correct unit to fit your home’s needs. We provide dependable, expert air conditioner installation in Manassas.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

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

One other possible cause of the smell could be problems with the electrical wiring or parts inside the air conditioning system. This can result in a burning smell that is like chemicals or burning plastic.

If you think your system has a refrigerant leak or an electrical problem, it's important to shut down your air conditioning system as soon as possible 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 home.

Strange Smell Coming from Your AC? Contact the Experts at Woody's Sudden Service

If your air conditioner stinks and you aren’t able to fix it simply on your own, reach out to the cooling experts at Woody's Sudden Service. We have plenty of experience working with a wide variety of air conditioning systems. Our crew has fixed a multitude of air conditioning problems through the years—including funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Manassas!