When your air conditioner starts emitting weird or unappealing odors, it is a good idea to take notice because it could be a sign of a significant problem. Disregarding unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioning may lead to further damage to your AC or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on what you're smelling, the root of the problem may be bacteria or fungus in the system. In other cases, it could also sign something mechanically wrong with the air conditioner. Some smells are even indicative of an unsafe problem, including a natural gas leak.

At Bishop Heating & Air Conditioning, we have a nose for these sorts of things. If you smell something weird coming from your AC, chances are our team of talented pros has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned the reputation as the first call for air conditioning repair in Bishop.

What does a particular smell coming out of your AC mean? Here are some frequent air conditioner odors and what they may mean:

Your AC 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 establish an environment that is beneficial to the development of bacteria and fungus. This can produce a bad odor that is often described as smelling like dirty feet.

Another likely explanation for the smell might be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes clogged with dirt, dust and other contaminants, it can result in low air quality and a musty smell that bears a resemblance to 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 replace the air filter on a regular basis to promote good air quality and protect against the formation of bacteria and fungus.

Your AC Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioner 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 unique 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 a situation that 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 ventilate the area, get everyone out of the building and call your gas company or emergency services right away.

Your AC Smells Like Mildew

If your AC is giving off an odor like mildew, it might be due to a accumulation 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 soiled air filter. When the air filter becomes clogged, it can cause poor air quality and a musty smell that resembles mildew.

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

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine

One of the most undesirable things is when the air coming out of your HVAC system smells like urine.

If your air conditioning equipment reeks of urine, it could could be caused by multiple factors. One potential cause is a accumulation of bacteria or mold in the air conditioning system. This can happen if moisture accumulates in the system and creates a damp environment that can promote bacterial growth. The bacteria can emit a foul odor that some people describe as smelling like urine.

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

Your AC Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your AC smells like burning plastic, a possible cause could be an electrical problem with the unit. After some time, the electrical parts in the air conditioning system can wear out or break, which can create a burning smell that resembles plastic.

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

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

Your AC Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like gas, it could be because of a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a distinctive smell, often described as smelling similar to rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because this scent is incorporated into natural gas to make it easily detectable.

As stated previously, a natural gas leak can be VERY hazardous 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 phone your gas company or emergency services as soon as possible.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Fish

Should your air conditioning equipment 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 strong odor that is often described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can create a smell like dirty feet.

Another potential cause of the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material caught inside the air conditioning system. This often is possible 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 air conditioning system. They can identify the source of the smell and take the proper steps to remove any contaminants and stop the problem from recurring.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

There could be multiple reasons a home's AC smells like vinegar. One possible cause is a plugged air filter. One other potential cause of the smell may be a refrigerant leak. Sometimes after the refrigerant leaks, it can generate a chemical odor that is described as smelling of vinegar.

To fix the issue, it's essential to have a skilled mechanic examine and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor continues 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, the mechanic can tell you if your air conditioning ought to be replaced.

If you are looking to upgrade, Bishop Heating & Air Conditioning can help locate the correct unit to fit your home’s needs. We deliver dependable, professional air conditioner installation in Bishop.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is emitting out of your air conditioning unit, it could be due to a refrigerant leak. If the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical aroma that some people describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.

An additional possible cause of the smell could be a problem with the electrical wiring or elements 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 concern, it's important to shut off your air conditioning system immediately and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be harmful and may require immediate attention to protect against injury or damage to your home.

Strange Smell Coming from Your Cooling? Contact the Experts at Bishop Heating & Air Conditioning

If your air conditioner stinks and you aren’t able to fix it quickly on your own, contact the cooling specialists at Bishop Heating & Air Conditioning. We have plenty of experience working with a wide variety of air conditioning systems. Our crew has fixed a multitude of air conditioning problems throughout the years—including strange smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Bishop!