When your air conditioner starts emitting weird or unappealing aromas, it is important to take notice because it could be a sign of a significant problem. Dismissing unpleasant smells coming from your cooling system could lead to additional damage to your air conditioning or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on the cause of the odor, the cause could be bacteria or fungus in the system. In other cases, it could also signal something mechanically wrong with the AC. Some smells are even indicative of a dangerous problem, including a natural gas leak.

At Desert Husky HVAC/R Services, we have a nose for these sorts of things. If you smell something peculiar coming from your AC, you can bet that our team of talented specialists has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned the reputation as the go-to team for air conditioning repair in Tucson and Phoenix.

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

Your AC Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it can be due to a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the unit. When moisture builds inside the unit, it can create an environment that is beneficial to the growth of bacteria and fungus. This can produce a foul odor that is often described as smelling like dirty 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 contaminants, it can lead to low air quality and a musty smell that bears a resemblance to feet.

To fix this dilemma, 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 development of bacteria and fungus.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your stinks like rotten eggs, it could be the result of a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a recognizable odor, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur, which 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 allow gas to escape the area, evacuate the building and call your gas company or emergency services at once.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew

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

Another possible cause of the smell might be a soiled air filter. When the air filter becomes clogged, it can result in poor air quality and a musty smell that resembles mildew.

Routine air conditioning maintenance from Desert Husky HVAC/R Services 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 running at its best!

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine

One of the most undesirable situations is when an air conditioner smells like urine.

If your air conditioning smells like urine, it could could be caused by multiple factors. One possible cause is a collection of bacteria or mold in the your cooling system. This can happen in the event that moisture accumulates in the system and creates a wet environment that favorable for bacterial growth. The bacteria can produce a foul odor that is like urine.

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

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your air conditioning system smells like burning plastic, this could indicate an electrical problem with the unit. Over time, the electrical elements in the air conditioning system can wear out or break, which can make a burning smell that resembles plastic.

Another possible cause of the smell could be a foreign object stuck in the HVAC system. If something foreign gets stuck in the air conditioning system, it can heat up and emit a smell that reminds people of burning plastic.

If you notice something that smells like burning plastic coming from your cooling system, it’s worthwhile to phone a professional right away.

My Air Conditioner 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 recognizable smell, often described as smelling similar to rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because an odor is incorporated into natural gas to make it easily detectable.

As mentioned before, a natural gas leak can be VERY harmful and requires immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, open windows and doors to air out the home, get everyone out of the building and call your gas company or emergency services right away.

Your AC Smells Like Fish

Should 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 fosters 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 trapped inside the air conditioning system. This often is possible if an animal such as a mouse or bird becomes trapped inside the unit and dies.

To fix the issue, it’s worthwhile to have a professional check out and clean your air conditioning system. They will be able to determine the source of the smell and take the proper steps to remove any contaminants and keep the problem from recurring.

Your AC Smells Like Vinegar

There could be multiple reasons an air conditioner smells like vinegar. One possible cause might be a dirty air filter. Another potential cause of the smell may be a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can generate a chemical odor that resembles vinegar.

To fix the issue, it’s important to have a skilled mechanic inspect and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor lingers after the cleaning and exchanging the air filter, it’s best to reach back out to a professional to diagnose and repair any underlying issues with your air conditioning. Or, the mechanic can tell you if your air conditioning should be replaced.

If you are looking to upgrade, Desert Husky HVAC/R Services can help select the ideal unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer reliable, expert air conditioner installation in Tucson and Phoenix.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is coming from your air conditioner, it could be the result of a refrigerant leak. In a situation where the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that people sometimes describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.

Another possible cause of the smell could be something wrong 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 off 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? Call the Pros at Desert Husky HVAC/R Services

If your air conditioner stinks and you aren’t able to fix it easily on your own, contact the cooling specialists at Desert Husky HVAC/R Services. We have lots of experience working with a wide variety of AC systems. Our crew has fixed countless air conditioning concerns throughout the years—including weird smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Tucson and Phoenix!