When your air conditioner starts spewing odd or funky odors, it is a good idea to take notice because it could be a sign of a major problem. Disregarding unpleasant smells coming from your cooling system could lead to serious damage to your HVAC system or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

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

At Everest Heating & Cooling, we are skilled at diagnosing and fixing these type of problems. If you smell something odd coming from your cooling system, there’s a good chance 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 Lansing.

What does a specific odor billowing coming from your cooling system mean? Here are several common air conditioner aromas and what they could mean:

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it may be caused by a buildup of bacteria or fungus in the system. When moisture collects inside the unit, it can establish an environment that is favorable to the spread of bacteria and fungus. This can produce a nasty odor that is often described as smelling like dirty feet.

Another likely explanation for an odor of stinky feet could be a dirty air filter. When your HVAC system’s air filter becomes clogged with dirt, dust and other particles, it can result in substandard air quality and a musty smell that resembles feet.

To fix 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 routinely to ensure good air quality and prevent the formation of bacteria and fungus.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioning unit 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, which is because of a substance added to it to make it easily detectable.

A natural gas leak 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 ventilate the area, make everyone leave the building and call your gas company or emergency services right away.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Mildew

If your cooling system smells like mildew, it may be due to a buildup of moisture inside the unit. When moisture accumulates inside the air conditioning system, it can promote the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty odor that bears a resemblance to mildew.

Another possible cause of the smell might be a clogged air filter. If the air filter becomes clogged, it can result in poor air quality and a musty smell that has a resemblance to mildew.

Routine air conditioning maintenance from Everest Heating & Cooling can help avoid both of these issues, 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 unpleasant things is when the air coming out of your HVAC system smells like urine.

If your air conditioner reeks of urine, it could be traced back to a number of things. One potential cause is a buildup of bacteria or mold in the your cooling system. This can happen if moisture accumulates in the system and creates a wet environment that can promote 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 effectively, but if the drain line becomes stopped up by debris, it can cause water to back up and collect inside the unit. This can generate a musty smell that is sometimes described as smelling of urine.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

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

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

If you think you smell burning plastic coming from your air conditioner, it’s worthwhile to call a professional right away.

Your AC Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioning smells like gas, it could be because of a natural gas leak in the unit or in your home. Natural gas has a distinct aroma, often described as smelling similar to rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because this scent is put into natural gas so that it is easily detectable.

As we said previously, a natural gas leak can be VERY dangerous 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, evacuate the building and call your gas company or emergency services as soon as possible.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish

When your air conditioner smell like fish, this could be a sign of 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 strong odor that is sometimes 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 caught within 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 fix the issue, it’s important to have a professional inspect and clean your air conditioning system. They should be able to determine the source of the smell and take the correct steps to remove any contaminants and stop the problem from recurring.

Your AC Smells Like Vinegar

There could be several reasons your air conditioner smells like vinegar. One possible cause might be a clogged air filter. A second possible 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 tech 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 find and repair any hidden issues with your air conditioning. Or, the mechanic can tell you if your air conditioning should be replaced.

If you are wanting to upgrade, Everest Heating & Cooling can help select the right unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer dependable, skilled air conditioner installation in Lansing.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

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

One other possible reason for the smell could be an issue with the electrical wiring or components inside the air conditioning system. This can produce a burning smell that resembles chemicals or burning plastic.

If you think your system has a refrigerant leak or an electrical problem, it’s important to turn off your air conditioning system as soon as possible 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 Cooling? Call the Pros at Everest Heating & Cooling

If your air conditioner reeks and you aren’t able to fix it easily on your own, call the cooling experts at Everest Heating & Cooling. We have lots of experience working with a wide variety of cooling systems. Our crew has fixed a multitude of air conditioning problems throughout the years—including weird smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Lansing!