When your air conditioner starts spewing strange or gross aromas, it is necessary to take notice because it could be a sign of a major problem. Disregarding unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioner can lead to serious damage to your AC or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on the smell, the culprit might be bacteria or fungus in the system. In other cases, it could also sign something mechanically wrong with the air conditioning system. Some smells are a sign of an unsafe situation, like a natural gas leak.

At TopTec, we are skilled at diagnosing and fixing these type of problems. If you smell something weird coming from your AC, there's a good chance our team of skilled professionals has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned the reputation as the first call for air conditioning repair in Libertyville.

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

Your AC Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it may be due to a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the system. When moisture collects inside the unit, it can create an environment that is favorable to the growth of bacteria and fungus. This can result in a nasty odor that is often described as smelling like stinky feet.

Another likely cause of an odor of stinky feet could be a dirty air filter. When the air filter becomes filled with dirt, dust and other particles, it can cause substandard air quality and a musty smell that resembles feet.

To correct this issue, it's important to have a professional 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 regularly to ensure good air quality and protect against the growth of bacteria and fungus.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioning equipment smells like rotten eggs, it might be because of 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, that is added to it to make it easily detectable.

A natural gas leak is 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, make everyone leave the building and call your gas company or emergency services at once.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Mildew

If your cooling system emits a smell like mildew, it could be due to a collection of moisture inside the unit. When moisture forms inside an air conditioner, it can cultivate the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty odor that it similar to mildew.

Another possible explanation for the smell may be a dirty air filter. Once the air filter becomes clogged, it can lead to poor air quality and a musty smell that has a resemblance to mildew.

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

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Urine

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

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

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

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your air conditioner smells like burning plastic, it might be because of an electrical problem with the unit. After some time, the electrical elements in the air conditioning system can wear out or break, which can create a burning smell that resembles plastic.

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

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

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioning smells like gas, it could be due to a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a recognizable odor, often described as smelling similar to rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because a smell is added to natural gas so that it is easily detectable.

As stated 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 phone your gas company or emergency services as soon as possible.

Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish

When your air conditioning equipment smell like fish, it could be due to a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture causes 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 cause a smell like dirty feet.

Another potential cause of the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material trapped within the air conditioning system. This often can take place if an animal such as a mouse or bird becomes trapped inside the unit and dies.

To correct the issue, it's worthwhile to have a professional examine and clean your air conditioning system. They should be able to find the source of the smell and take the correct steps to remove any contaminants and prevent the problem from recurring.

Your AC Smells Like Vinegar

There could be multiple reasons your AC smells like vinegar. One possible cause might be a clogged air filter. One other likely cause of the smell could be a refrigerant leak. Sometimes after the refrigerant leaks, it can generate a chemical odor that resembles vinegar.

To fix the issue, it's essential to have a skilled tech 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 persistent issues with your air conditioning. Or, they can tell you if your air conditioning needs to be replaced.

If you are looking to upgrade, TopTec can help find the correct unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer trustworthy, expert air conditioner installation in Libertyville.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Chemicals

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

One other possible cause of the smell could be a problem with the electrical wiring or elements inside the air conditioning system. This can result in a burning smell that resembles chemicals or burning plastic.

If you think your system has a refrigerant leak or an electrical concern, 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 house.

Strange Smell Coming from the Air Conditioning? Call the Pros at TopTec

If your air conditioner reeks and you aren’t able to fix it simply on your own, call the cooling experts at TopTec. We have lots of experience working with a wide variety of HVAC systems. Our crew has fixed a multitude of air conditioning troubles over the years—including funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Libertyville!