When your air conditioner starts emitting strange or funky aromas, it is important to take notice because it could be a sign of a big problem. Ignoring unpleasant smells coming from your air conditioning could lead to additional 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 could be bacteria or fungus in the system. Other times, it could also sign something mechanically wrong with the AC. Some smells are a sign of a harmful situation, like a natural gas leak.

At Home Furniture, Plumbing & Heating, we are experienced at getting to the root cause of stinky smells. If you smell something weird coming from your cooling system, there's a good chance our team of qualified pros has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned our reputation as the first call for air conditioning repair in Kankakee.

What does a particular smell wafting out of your AC mean? Here are several common air conditioner aromas and what they may mean:

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it may be because of a buildup of bacteria or fungus inside of it. When moisture accumulates inside the unit, it can create an environment that is beneficial to the growth of bacteria and fungus. This can result in a foul odor that is often described as smelling like dirty feet.

Another likely explanation for the smell could be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes choked with dirt, dust and other contaminants, it can result in substandard air quality and a musty smell that resembles feet.

To fix this problem, 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 promote good air quality and prevent the development of bacteria and fungus.

Your AC Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your reeks of rotten eggs, it may be because of a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a recognizable 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 can be 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, get everyone out of the building and call your gas company or emergency services right away.

Your AC Smells Like Mildew

If your cooling system emits a smell like mildew, it could be due to a accumulation of moisture inside the unit. When moisture accumulates inside the air conditioning system, it can foster the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty stench that resembles mildew.

Another possible reason for the smell could be a soiled air filter. When the air filter becomes clogged, it can cause poor air quality and a musty smell that resembles mildew.

Regular air conditioning maintenance from Home Furniture, Plumbing & Heating can help prevent both of these problems, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a great way to keep your system working at its best!

Your AC Smells Like Urine

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

If your air conditioning reeks of urine, it could be due to a variety of factors. One possible 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 moist environment that favorable for bacterial growth. The bacteria can emit a foul odor that is 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 effectively, but if the drain line becomes choked with debris, it can cause water to back up and build up inside the unit. This can produce a musty smell that is sometimes described as smelling of urine.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your AC smells like burning plastic, it might be because of an electrical concern 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 lodged in the HVAC system. If something foreign gets caught in the air conditioning system, it can heat up and cause a smell similar to burning plastic.

If you notice something that smells like burning plastic coming from your air conditioner, it’s worthwhile to call 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 your home. Natural gas has a recognizable aroma, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because this scent is put into natural gas to make sure that it is easily detectable.

As mentioned before, a natural gas leak can be VERY hazardous and requires immediate attention. Should 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.

Your AC 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 foul odor that is often described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can result in a smell like dirty feet.

Another possible cause of the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material stuck inside 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 solve the issue, it's often necessary to have a professional check out and clean your air conditioning system. They can find the source of the smell and take the correct steps to remove any contaminants and stop the problem from recurring.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

There could be several reasons an air conditioner smells like vinegar. One possible cause of the smell could be a clogged air filter. A second likely cause of the smell could be a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that is described as smelling of vinegar.

To fix the issue, it's beneficial to have a skilled tech look at 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 diagnose and repair any hidden issues with your air conditioning. Or, the mechanic can tell you if your air conditioning needs to be replaced.

If you are planning to upgrade, Home Furniture, Plumbing & Heating can help find the correct unit to fit your home’s needs. We offer dependable, skilled air conditioner installation in Kankakee.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is coming out of your air conditioning equipment, it could be due to a refrigerant leak. If the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that is often described as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.

An additional possible cause of the smell could be problems with the electrical wiring or parts inside the air conditioning system. This can cause a burning smell that is like chemicals or burning plastic.

If you suspect a refrigerant leak or an electrical concern, 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 harmful and may require immediate attention to protect against injury or damage to your house.

Strange Smell Coming from Your Cooling? Call the Pros at Home Furniture, Plumbing & Heating

If your air conditioner reeks and you aren’t able to fix it easily on your own, contact the cooling professionals at Home Furniture, Plumbing & Heating. We have lots of experience working with a wide variety of AC systems. Our crew has fixed countless air conditioning problems throughout the years—including strange smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Kankakee!