When your air conditioner starts emitting unusual or gross odors, it is necessary to take notice because it could be a sign of a major problem. Disregarding unpleasant smells coming from your cooling system could lead to further damage to your AC or even pose a risk to your health and safety.

Depending on the cause of the odor, the root of the problem may be bacteria or fungus in the system. On the other hand, it could also signal something mechanically wrong with the air conditioning system. Some smells are a sign of an unsafe scenario, like a natural gas leak.

At Tri County Climate Control LLC, we are experienced at getting to the root cause of stinky smells. If you smell something peculiar coming from your cooling system, you can bet that our team of qualified pros has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned a reputation as the first call for air conditioning repair in Bend.

What does a certain smell coming coming from your air conditioning mean? Here are a few common air conditioner aromas and what they might mean:

Your AC Smells Like Feet

If your air conditioner smells like feet, it can be caused by a buildup of bacteria or fungus inside of it. When moisture builds inside the unit, it can produce an environment that is favorable to the growth of bacteria and fungus. This can result in a bad odor that is often described as smelling like stinky feet.

Another potential explanation for an odor of stinky feet may be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes choked with dirt, dust and other debris, it can cause substandard air quality and a musty smell that bears a resemblance to feet.

To correct this unpleasant situation, it's important to have a professional 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 regularly to promote good air quality and prevent the development of bacteria and fungus.

Your AC Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioner stinks 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, which is added to it to make it easily detectable.

A natural gas leak is a situation that 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, evacuate the building and call your gas company or emergency services at once.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew

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

Another possible explanation for the smell might be a soiled air filter. If the air filter becomes clogged, it can lead to poor air quality and a musty smell that resembles mildew.

Routine air conditioning maintenance from Tri County Climate Control LLC 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 undesirable things is when the air coming out of your HVAC system smells like urine.

If your air conditioning stinks like urine, it could be traced back to a number of things. One potential cause is a accumulation of bacteria or mold in the your HVAC. This can happen in the event that moisture accumulates in the system and creates a moist environment that favorable for bacterial growth. The bacteria can produce a foul odor that is like urine.

Another feasible cause of the smell 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 create a musty smell that resembles urine.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Burning Plastic

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

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

If you notice something that smells like burning plastic coming from your air conditioner, it’s important to phone a professional right away.

Your AC Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like gas, it could be due to a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a distinct aroma, often described as smelling of rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because a smell is added to natural gas to make sure that it is easily detectable.

As mentioned before, a natural gas leak can be VERY harmful 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, leave the building and contact your gas company or emergency services straight away.

Your AC Smells Like Fish

If your air conditioner smell like fish, you may have a situation where there's a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture produces an environment that is conducive to the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a foul odor that is sometimes described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can result in a smell like dirty feet.

Another plausible explanation for the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material stuck within the air conditioning system. This often can happen if an animal such as a mouse or bird gets trapped inside the unit and dies.

To solve the issue, it's important to have a professional inspect and clean your air conditioning system. They will be able to find the source of the smell and take the correct steps to remove any contaminants and stop the problem from recurring.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Vinegar

There could be several reasons an AC smells like vinegar. One possible cause of the smell could be a plugged air filter. Another likely cause of the smell may 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 beneficial to have a skilled tech examine and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor persists after the cleaning and exchanging the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to identify and repair any persistent issues with your air conditioning. Or, they can tell you if your air conditioning needs to be replaced.

If you are looking to upgrade, Tri County Climate Control LLC can help locate the correct unit to fit your home’s needs. We deliver reliable, professional air conditioner installation in Bend.

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. In a situation where the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical aroma that people sometimes describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.

Another possible reason for the smell could be an issue with the electrical wiring or hardware 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 immediately and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be hazardous and may require immediate attention to protect against injury or damage to your house.

A Nasty Odor Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at Tri County Climate Control LLC

If your air conditioner reeks and you aren’t able to fix it easily on your own, reach out to the cooling experts at Tri County Climate Control LLC. 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 funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Bend!