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

Depending on the smell, the culprit could be bacteria or fungus in the system. Other times, it could also signal something mechanically wrong with the air conditioning system. Some smells are a warning of a dangerous problem, including a natural gas leak.

At Cytech Heating & Cooling L.C., we are skilled at diagnosing and fixing these type of problems. If you smell something peculiar coming from your AC, 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 Rio Grande Valley.

What does a particular smell billowing out of your air conditioning mean? Here are a few frequent air conditioner aromas and what they could mean:

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it might 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 beneficial to the spread of bacteria and fungus. This can produce a nasty odor that is often described as smelling like feet.

Another possible reason for the smell could be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes filled with dirt, dust and other debris, it can cause substandard air quality and a musty smell that bears a resemblance to feet.

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

Your AC Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioner stinks like rotten eggs, it might be caused by 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 very 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, get everyone out of the building and call your gas company or emergency services immediately.

Your AC Smells Like Mildew

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

Another possible cause of the smell may be a soiled air filter. When the air filter becomes clogged, it can lead to poor air quality and a musty smell that has a resemblance to mildew.

Regular air conditioning maintenance from Cytech Heating & Cooling L.C. can help prevent 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!

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Urine

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

If your air conditioning equipment reeks of urine, it could be traced back to a number of things. One likely cause is a collection of bacteria or mold in the your HVAC. This can happen when moisture accumulates in the system and creates a damp environment that can promote bacterial growth. The bacteria can create a foul odor that resembles urine.

Another potential cause of the scent of urine 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 choked with debris, it can cause water to back up and accumulate inside the unit. This can produce a musty smell that resembles urine.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your AC smells like burning plastic, this could indicate an electrical issue with the unit. After a while, the electrical parts in the air conditioning system can wear out or bust, which can produce 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 heat up and emit a smell like burning plastic.

If you think you smell burning plastic coming from your air conditioner, it’s worthwhile to contact 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 your home. Natural gas has a distinctive aroma, often described as smelling of rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because an odor is added to natural gas to make sure that it is easily detectable.

As stated earlier, a natural gas leak can be VERY dangerous 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, leave the building and phone your gas company or emergency services as soon as possible.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish

Should your AC smell like fish, it could be due to a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture causes an environment that promotes the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a strong 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 is possible if an animal such as a mouse or bird is trapped inside the unit and dies.

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

Your AC Smells Like Vinegar

There could be numerous reasons an AC smells like vinegar. One possible cause is a plugged air filter. Another possible cause of the smell might be a refrigerant leak. Sometimes after the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that resembles 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 replacing 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 planning to upgrade, Cytech Heating & Cooling L.C. can help select the ideal unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer dependable, professional air conditioner installation in Rio Grande Valley.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is coming 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.

Another possible cause of the smell could be problems with the electrical wiring or components inside the air conditioning system. This can result in a burning smell that it similar to chemicals or burning plastic.

If you suspect 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 dangerous and may require immediate attention to prevent injury or damage to your house.

Strange Smell Coming from the Air Conditioning? Call the Pros at Cytech Heating & Cooling L.C.

If your air conditioner stinks and you aren’t able to fix it simply on your own, contact the cooling experts at Cytech Heating & Cooling L.C.. We have plenty of experience working with a wide variety of cooling systems. Our crew has fixed a multitude of air conditioning concerns over the years—including funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Rio Grande Valley!