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

Depending on what you're smelling, the culprit might be bacteria or fungus in the system. Other times, it could also indicate something mechanically wrong with the air conditioning system. Some smells are a warning of a dangerous problem, including a natural gas leak.

At I-Deal HVAC, we are skilled at diagnosing and fixing these type of problems. If you smell something weird coming from your AC, chances are our team of qualified specialists has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned a reputation as the premier company for air conditioning repair in Albuquerque.

What does a specific odor wafting coming from your AC mean? Here are several typical air conditioner smells and what they might mean:

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it could be because of a buildup of bacteria or fungus inside of it. When moisture accumulates inside the unit, it can create an environment that is beneficial to the development of bacteria and fungus. This can cause a nasty odor that is often described as smelling like feet.

Another possible explanation for the stench of dirty feet could be a dirty air filter. When your HVAC system's air filter becomes choked with dirt, dust and other debris, it can result in 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 replace the air filter on a regular basis to promote good air quality and restrict the growth of bacteria and fungus.

Your AC Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, it might be the result of 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 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 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 smells like mildew, it could be due to a accumulation of moisture inside the unit. When moisture collects inside the air conditioning system, it can foster the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty odor that resembles mildew.

Another possible reason for 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 is similar to mildew.

Annual air conditioning maintenance from I-Deal HVAC 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!

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine

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

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

Another possible 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 accumulate inside the unit. This can generate a musty smell that is sometimes described as smelling of urine.

Your AC Smells Like Burning Plastic

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

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

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

Your AC Smells Like Gas

If your AC smells like gas, it could be because of a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a recognizable smell, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because an odor is incorporated into natural gas so that it is easily detectable.

As mentioned earlier, a natural gas leak can be VERY dangerous and calls for immediate attention. When 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 phone your gas company or emergency services straight away.

Your AC Smells Like Fish

Should your air conditioner 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 foul odor that is sometimes described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can cause a smell like dirty feet.

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

To fix the issue, it's important to have a professional inspect and clean your HVAC system. They can identify the source of the smell and take the appropriate steps to remove any contaminants and prevent the problem from recurring.

Your AC Smells Like Vinegar

There could be several reasons your AC smells like vinegar. One possible cause of the smell could be a dirty air filter. A second likely cause of the smell could be a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can make a chemical odor that is described as smelling of vinegar.

To fix the issue, it's essential to have a skilled tech look at and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor continues after the cleaning and replacing of the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to find and repair any persistent issues with your air conditioning. Or, they can tell you if your air conditioning ought to be replaced.

If you are wanting to upgrade, I-Deal HVAC can help select the ideal unit to fit your home’s needs. We deliver reliable, skilled air conditioner installation in Albuquerque.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is coming out of your air conditioner, it could be the result of a refrigerant leak. In a situation where 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 reason for 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 believe there is a refrigerant leak or an electrical issue, it's important to shut down your air conditioning system immediately 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 home.

A Nasty Odor Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at I-Deal HVAC

If your air conditioner stinks and you aren’t able to fix it quickly on your own, call the cooling professionals at I-Deal HVAC. We have plenty of experience working with a wide variety of AC systems. Our crew has fixed many air conditioning problems over the years—including funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Albuquerque!