Bad Air Conditioner Smells and How to Fix the Problem

Imagine you are sitting at home trying to enjoy the cool air coming out of your air conditioner when suddenly a rotten smell comes through. An unpleasant smell seeping out of your air-conditioning unit can throw you off immediately. Unfortunately, there are several smells that an air conditioner can put off that can indicate a problem. 

Thankfully, most air conditioner odors are easy to get rid of. Identifying the type of order that you smell can help you quickly resolve.

Rotten Eggs

The smell of rotten eggs coming out of your air conditioner could mean that you have gas leaking somewhere. The gas is entering into your ductwork and spreading through your home after being blown out.

Natural gas is incredibly hazardous. It can explode, reduce the oxygen levels inside your home, and even catch on fire. If you smell rotten eggs in your air conditioner, you must turn off your gas supply immediately. Have everyone leave the house and call 911 or your local gas company to report a possible leak. Someone will come to your house and perform an inspection to identify the location of the leak.

Dirty Socks

Funky feet or a dirty sock smell coming out of your air conditioner often indicates that there is standing water or bacteria growing inside of your unit. Thankfully, this smell is not generally harmful to you.

To get rid of the dirty sock smelling your home, it is recommended that you change the air filter in your air conditioner. Next, you should contact an HVAC company to come out and clean your unit. There is a good chance that your evaporator coil may need cleaned as well as the drain. 

Must or Mildew Smell

If you smell a musty or mildew-type odor in your air conditioner, it could indicate that there is moisture trapped inside. The moisture may be located in the docks, which could lead to the growth of mildew within the ductwork.

You should check your AC filter as soon as possible. Look for any blockages and moisture. If you do not locate any moisture on the filter, you should reach out to an HVAC professional as soon as possible. It may turn out that you need to have your condensate line cleared out, as well as your ductwork.

Burning Smell

Burning smells coming from your air conditioner unit can be alarming. Thankfully, most of them are nothing serious. If you smell a faint burning smell coming from your HVAC right when you turn it on, it does not usually indicate a serious problem. If you smell a gunpowder odor or a strong burning smell, it can indicate that there is an electrical fire hazard. This could include a motor that is overheating, frayed wires that may be sparking, or a short circuit.

If you turn on your air conditioner and you smell a faint width of something burning coming out of the unit, wait a couple of minutes to see if the smell goes away. A stronger burning odor can warrant the need to evacuate your home. It is important that you contact a Cincinnati fire department to have them inspect your home for any possible fire hazards.

Exhaust Fumes

The smell of exhaust fumes coming out of your electric-powered air conditioner can indicate that there is a leak in your motor or refrigerant line. To render this issue, you should reach out to an air conditioner repair company as soon as possible.

Vehicle Coolant

The smell of coolant coming out of your air conditioner could indicate that you have a Freon leak in your unit. This is incredibly dangerous since inhaling Freon is toxic. You must stop running the air conditioner as soon as possible and open the windows in your home. You want to let the fresh air into your home and contact an HVAC expert in the Cincinnati area.

Cigarette Smoke

The smell of cigarette smoke coming through your air conditioner vents is generally common in locations where people smoke frequently indoors. The stale smoke smell can be absorbed through the air filter in your hair conditioner and the evaporator coil. The scent is then recycled throughout your home.

If you smell cigarette smoke coming out of your air conditioner, you want to clean or change your filter more frequently. In these cases, you should change the filter every 30 days and have the system cleaned at least once a year by an HVAC expert.

Skunk Smell

If there is a skunk-like odor coming out of your air conditioner, don’t assume that it’s from a skunk. A skunk odor can actually indicate a gas leak and the smell is really a chemical call Methyl Mercaptan. You should immediately determine the source of the smell. Turning off your air conditioner unit is also one of the best things that you can do to prevent the smell from spreading through your home. 

To ensure your safety, contact your natural gas company and an HVAC tech to come out and clean the docks and the condenser for you. While it is possible that a skunk may have sprayed your outdoor condenser unit (causing the odor to come through your ductwork and out into your home), you should not assume so. 

Garbage Smell

If you smell garbage in your air conditioner, it could indicate that there is a bird, rodent, or another critter that climbed into your ductwork and passed away. Running the air conditioner can spread the odor through your home, which can be incredibly unpleasant.

You will need to have someone come into your home and remove the animal’s remains. They will also need to clean the ductwork to fully remove the odor. Until then, you can prevent the smell from spreading through your home by turning off the unit.

Call Our HVAC Experts in Cincinnati, OH

Dealing with an unpleasant odor coming out of your air conditioner is not something you have to deal with on your own. You can contact our team at Cair Heating & Cooling in Cincinnati, and we can come to help tackle the problem for you. Call at your earliest convenience to schedule an appointment so we can get started on helping you as soon as possible.