When your air conditioner starts putting out unusual or funky odors, it is important to take notice because it could be a sign of a major problem. Dismissing unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioner 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 culprit might 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 sign of a harmful problem, such as a natural gas leak.

At Pure Comfort Heating and Air Conditioning, 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 skilled professionals has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned a reputation as the premier company for air conditioning repair in Streamwood.

What does a certain smell coming out of your cooling system mean? Here are a few frequent air conditioner aromas and what they could mean:

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet

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

Another possible cause of an odor of stinky feet may be a dirty air filter. When your HVAC system’s air filter becomes filled with dirt, dust and other particles, it can cause poor air quality and a musty smell that resembles feet.

To solve this issue, 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 change the air filter regularly to ensure good air quality and restrict the development of bacteria and fungus.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioning unit stinks like rotten eggs, it may 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 is a situation that 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 allow gas to escape the area, make everyone leave the building and call your gas company or emergency services right away.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew

If your AC emits a smell like mildew, it could be due to a accumulation of moisture inside the unit. When moisture forms inside a cooling system, it can foster the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty stench that it similar to mildew.

Another possible reason for the smell could be a dirty air filter. If the air filter becomes clogged, it can result in poor air quality and a musty smell that resembles mildew.

Routine air conditioning maintenance from Pure Comfort Heating and Air Conditioning 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!

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Urine

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

If your air conditioning equipment reeks of urine, it could be due to a variety of factors. One likely 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 wet environment that is conducive to bacterial growth. The bacteria can create a foul odor that resembles urine.

Another feasible 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 effectively, 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.

Your AC Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your AC smells like burning plastic, it might be because of an electrical concern with the unit. After a while, the electrical parts in the air conditioning system can wear out or malfunction, which can create a burning smell that resembles plastic.

Another possible reason for the smell could be a foreign object lodged in the unit. If something foreign gets caught in the air conditioning system, it can get hot and cause a smell similar to burning plastic.

If you smell burning plastic coming from your cooling system, it’s important to call a professional right away.

Your AC 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 smell, 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 previously, a natural gas leak can be VERY hazardous and needs immediate attention. Should 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 straight away.

Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish

Should 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 promotes 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 create a smell like dirty feet.

Another potential cause of 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 becomes trapped inside the unit and dies.

To correct the issue, it’s important to have a professional examine and clean your cooling system. They should be able to identify the source of the smell and take the correct steps to remove any contaminants and keep the problem from recurring.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Vinegar

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

To fix the issue, it’s important to have a skilled specialist inspect and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor persists after the cleaning and changing of the air filter, it’s best to reach back out to a professional to diagnose and repair any persistent issues with your air conditioning. Or, they can tell you if your air conditioning needs to be replaced.

If you are planning to upgrade, Pure Comfort Heating and Air Conditioning can help find the correct unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer dependable, professional air conditioner installation in Streamwood.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is coming out of your air conditioning equipment, it could be caused by 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.

An additional possible reason for the smell could be a problem with the electrical wiring or parts inside the air conditioning system. This can produce a burning smell that is like chemicals or burning plastic.

If you believe there is a refrigerant leak or an electrical concern, 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 harmful and may require immediate attention to prevent injury or damage to your home.

Weird Smells Coming from the Air Conditioning? Contact the Experts at Pure Comfort Heating and Air Conditioning

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