When your air conditioner starts emitting unusual or gross odors, it is a good idea to take notice because it could be a sign of a big problem. Disregarding unpleasant smells coming from your cooling system could lead to serious 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. In other cases, it could also sign something mechanically wrong with the air conditioner. Some smells are a warning of a hazardous situation, like a natural gas leak.

At ACE Solutions, we are experienced at getting to the root cause of stinky smells. If you smell something weird coming from your AC, there's a good chance our team of skilled pros has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned our reputation as the premier company for air conditioning repair in Hasbrouck Heights.

What does a particular smell wafting out of your cooling system mean? Here are a few common air conditioner smells and what they may mean:

Your AC Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it could be caused by a buildup of bacteria or fungus inside of it. 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 foul odor that is often described as smelling like dirty feet.

Another likely explanation for the smell could be a dirty air filter. When the air filter becomes clogged with dirt, dust and other contaminants, it can cause poor air quality and a musty smell that resembles feet.

To solve 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 change the air filter routinely to promote good air quality and restrict the development of bacteria and fungus.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioner stinks like rotten eggs, it may be due to 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, which is because of a substance added to it to make it easily detectable.

A natural gas leak can be extraordinarily 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, evacuate the building and call your gas company or emergency services right away.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Mildew

If your AC is giving off an odor like mildew, it could be due to a buildup of moisture inside the unit. When moisture collects 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 reason for the smell may 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.

Regular air conditioning maintenance from ACE Solutions can help avoid both of these situations, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a terrific way to keep your system operating at its best!

Your AC Smells Like Urine

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

If your air conditioning reeks of urine, it could be traced back to a number of things. One possible cause is a buildup of bacteria or mold in the air conditioning system. This can happen if moisture accumulates in the system and creates a damp environment that is conducive to bacterial growth. The bacteria can create a foul odor that it similar to urine.

Another feasible cause of the smell could be a clogged drain line. The condensation that forms inside the air conditioning unit needs to drain away effectively, but if the drain line becomes filled with debris, it can cause water to back up and build up inside the unit. This can create a musty smell that resembles urine.

Your AC Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your air conditioning system smells like burning plastic, it might be because of an electrical problem with the unit. After a while, the electrical elements 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 stuck in the the air conditioner. If something foreign gets trapped in the air conditioning system, it can become hot and result in a smell similar to burning plastic.

If you notice something that smells like burning plastic coming from your air conditioner, it’s worthwhile 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 distinct aroma, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because an odor is put into natural gas to make sure that it is easily detectable.

As stated earlier, a natural gas leak can be VERY harmful and needs 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 right away.

Why 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 creates an environment that fosters the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a disgusting odor that is often 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 caught in 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 correct the issue, it's worthwhile to have a professional inspect and clean your cooling system. They should be able to determine the source of the smell and take the appropriate steps to remove any contaminants and prevent the problem from recurring.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

There could be numerous reasons an air conditioning system smells like vinegar. One possible cause is a dirty air filter. Another likely cause of the smell could be a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can generate a chemical odor that resembles vinegar.

To fix the issue, it's essential to have a skilled mechanic 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 diagnose 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, ACE Solutions can help locate the ideal unit to fit your home’s needs. We deliver dependable, skilled air conditioner installation in Hasbrouck Heights.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is coming from your air conditioning equipment, it could be due to a refrigerant leak. If 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 cause of the smell could be problems with the electrical wiring or hardware 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 problem, 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 hazardous and may require immediate attention to prevent injury or damage to your residence.

A Nasty Odor Coming from the Air Conditioning? Contact the Experts at ACE Solutions

If your air conditioner reeks and you aren’t able to fix it quickly on your own, reach out to the cooling specialists at ACE Solutions. We have years of experience working with a wide variety of cooling systems. Our crew has fixed many air conditioning concerns through the years—including strange smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Hasbrouck Heights!