When your air conditioner starts putting out odd or gross odors, it is important to take notice because it could be a sign of a major problem. Disregarding unpleasant smells coming from your cooling system can lead to serious damage to your AC or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on the smell, the root of the problem might be bacteria or fungus in the system. Other times, it could also signal something mechanically wrong with the air conditioner. Some smells are a warning of an unsafe problem, like a natural gas leak.

At Durable Service, we are skilled at diagnosing and fixing these type of problems. If you smell something weird coming from your air conditioner, chances are our team of qualified pros has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned the reputation as the first call for air conditioning repair in Holdrege.

What does a certain smell wafting coming from your AC mean? Here are some frequent air conditioner smells and what they could mean:

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Feet

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

Another possible cause of the stench of dirty feet might be a dirty air filter. When your HVAC system's air filter becomes clogged with dirt, dust and other particles, it can lead to poor air quality and a musty smell that bears a resemblance to feet.

To correct 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 exchange the air filter on a regular basis to provide good air quality and restrict the formation of bacteria and fungus.

Your AC Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioning unit reeks of rotten eggs, it could be caused by 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, which is because of a substance 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 ventilate the area, make everyone leave the building and call your gas company or emergency services at once.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew

If your cooling system smells like mildew, it may be due to a buildup of moisture inside the unit. When moisture forms inside the air conditioning system, it can foster the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty stench that resembles mildew.

Another possible cause of the smell could be a soiled air filter. Once the air filter becomes clogged, it can result in poor air quality and a musty smell that has a resemblance to mildew.

Annual air conditioning maintenance from Durable Service can help protect against both of these issues, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a great way to keep your system running at its best!

Your AC Smells Like Urine

One of the most unpleasant situations is when your AC smells like urine.

If your air conditioning stinks like urine, it could could be caused by multiple factors. One potential cause is a collection of bacteria or mold in the your cooling system. This can happen if moisture accumulates in the system and creates a damp environment that can promote bacterial growth. The bacteria can create a foul odor that is like urine.

Another possible 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 properly, but if the drain line becomes choked with 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.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your AC 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 make a burning smell that resembles plastic.

Another possible root cause of the smell could be a foreign object stuck in the HVAC system. If something foreign gets trapped in the air conditioning system, it can become hot and emit a smell like burning plastic.

If you smell burning plastic coming from your air conditioner, it’s important 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 aroma, often described as smelling similar to rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because this scent is incorporated into natural gas so that it is easily detectable.

As mentioned before, a natural gas leak can be VERY hazardous and requires immediate attention. When 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 as soon as possible.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Fish

When your air conditioner smell like fish, it could be due to a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture produces 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 result in a smell like dirty feet.

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

To fix the issue, it's often necessary to have a professional examine and clean your HVAC system. They should be able to determine the source of the smell and take the correct steps to remove any contaminants and prevent the problem from recurring.

Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

There could be numerous reasons a home's AC smells like vinegar. One possible cause of the smell could be a dirty air filter. A second potential cause of the smell could be a refrigerant leak. Sometimes after the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that is described as smelling of vinegar.

To fix the issue, it's essential to have a skilled mechanic inspect and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor persists after the cleaning and exchanging 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, they can tell you if your air conditioning needs to be replaced.

If you are wanting to upgrade, Durable Service can help find the correct unit to fit your home’s needs. We provide trustworthy, professional air conditioner installation in Holdrege.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is coming from your air conditioner, it could be due to a refrigerant leak. If 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 source of the smell could be a problem with the electrical wiring or hardware 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 issue, it's important to shut 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 protect against injury or damage to your residence.

Strange Smell Coming from Your Cooling? Contact the Experts at Durable Service

If your air conditioner reeks and you aren’t able to fix it easily on your own, call the cooling specialists at Durable Service. We have lots of experience working with a wide variety of AC systems. Our crew has fixed a multitude of air conditioning problems through the years—including weird smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Holdrege!