When your air conditioner starts putting out weird or gross aromas, it is important to take notice because it could be a sign of a major problem. Disregarding unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioner 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 culprit may be bacteria or fungus in the system. On the other hand, it could also signal something mechanically wrong with the AC. Some smells are a warning of a dangerous situation, like a natural gas leak.

At North Mechanical Heating and Cooling, 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 talented specialists has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned a reputation as the go-to team for air conditioning repair in Payson.

What does a particular smell wafting out of your air conditioning mean? Here are some common air conditioner smells and what they could mean:

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Feet

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

Another potential explanation for the stench of dirty feet could be a dirty air filter. When the air filter becomes choked with dirt, dust and other debris, it can lead to substandard air quality and a musty smell that it similar to the smell of feet.

To fix this unpleasant situation, 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 prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioning equipment stinks like rotten eggs, it may be caused by 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, which is 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 at once.

Your AC Smells Like Mildew

If your AC is giving off an odor like mildew, it could be due to a accumulation of moisture inside the unit. When moisture forms inside a cooling system, it can foster the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty smell that it similar to mildew.

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

Annual air conditioning maintenance from North Mechanical Heating and Cooling can help prevent both of these problems, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a very good way to keep your system running at its best!

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Urine

One of the most undesirable things is when your AC smells like urine.

If your air conditioning equipment smells like urine, it could be traced back to a number of things. One likely cause is a collection of bacteria or mold in the your HVAC. This can happen when moisture accumulates in the system and creates a wet environment that favorable for bacterial growth. The bacteria can create a foul odor that some people describe as smelling like urine.

Another feasible 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 clogged with debris, it can cause water to back up and build up inside the unit. This can generate a musty smell that resembles urine.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your AC smells like burning plastic, this could indicate an electrical issue with the unit. After a while, the electrical parts in the air conditioning system can wear out or malfunction, which can produce a burning smell that resembles plastic.

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

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

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your AC smells like gas, it could be due to 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’s because an odor is incorporated into natural gas so that it is easily detectable.

As stated earlier, a natural gas leak can be VERY dangerous and calls for immediate attention. Should you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, open windows and doors to air out the home, leave the building and call your gas company or emergency services as soon as possible.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Fish

Should your AC smell like fish, you may have a situation where there's a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture causes an environment that promotes the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a disgusting odor that is often 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 caught inside the air conditioning system. This often is possible if an animal such as a mouse or bird is trapped inside the unit and dies.

To fix the issue, it's worthwhile to have a professional examine and clean your cooling system. They should be able to determine 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 several reasons your air conditioner smells like vinegar. One possible cause might be a clogged air filter. A second possible cause of the smell might be a refrigerant leak. Sometimes after the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that is similar to vinegar.

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

If you are planning to upgrade, North Mechanical Heating and Cooling can help locate the correct unit to fit your home’s needs. We provide reliable, expert air conditioner installation in Payson.

Your AC Smells Like Chemicals

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

Another possible reason for the smell could be problems with the electrical wiring or hardware inside the air conditioning system. This can produce a burning smell that is like chemicals or burning plastic.

If you think your system has a refrigerant leak or an electrical problem, 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 avoid injury or damage to your residence.

A Nasty Odor Coming from Your Cooling? Call the Pros at North Mechanical Heating and Cooling

If your air conditioner stinks and you aren’t able to fix it simply on your own, contact the cooling specialists at North Mechanical Heating and Cooling. We have lots of experience working with a wide variety of cooling systems. Our crew has fixed countless air conditioning concerns over the years—including strange smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Payson!