When your air conditioner starts spewing weird or unappealing smells, it is necessary to take notice because it could be a sign of a major problem. Disregarding 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 the cause of the odor, the culprit might be bacteria or fungus in the system. In other cases, it could also signal something mechanically wrong with the air conditioner. Some smells are a warning of an unsafe problem, including a natural gas leak.

At Kirkfield Heating & Air Conditioning, we have a nose for these sorts of things. If you smell something peculiar coming from your cooling system, there's a good chance our team of talented professionals has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned the reputation as the first call for air conditioning repair in Winnipeg.

What does a particular smell coming from your cooling system mean? Here are a few common air conditioner smells and what they could mean:

My Air Conditioner 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 collects inside the unit, it can create an environment that is beneficial to the growth of bacteria and fungus. This can result in a nasty odor that is often described as smelling like stinky feet.

Another likely reason for the stench of dirty feet could be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes choked with dirt, dust and other contaminants, it can cause poor air quality and a musty smell that it similar to the smell of feet.

To solve 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 replace the air filter on a regular basis to promote good air quality and prevent the formation of bacteria and fungus.

Your AC Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioning unit reeks of rotten eggs, it may be caused by a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a distinct 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 is a situation that is extremely dangerous and requires immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, immediately open windows and doors to allow gas to escape the area, make everyone leave the building and call your gas company or emergency services at once.

Your AC Smells Like Mildew

If your cooling system smells like mildew, it could be due to a accumulation of moisture inside the unit. When moisture collects inside a cooling system, it can foster the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty stench that bears a resemblance to mildew.

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

Regular air conditioning maintenance from Kirkfield Heating & Air Conditioning can help protect against both of these situations, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a very good way to keep your system operating at its best!

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Urine

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

If your air conditioner reeks of urine, it could be due to a variety of factors. One possible cause is a accumulation of bacteria or mold in the your cooling system. This can happen when moisture accumulates in the system and creates a moist environment that is conducive to bacterial growth. The bacteria can produce a foul odor that resembles urine.

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

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Burning Plastic

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

Another possible cause of the smell could be a foreign object stuck in the HVAC system. If something foreign gets caught in the air conditioning system, it can heat up and emit a smell like 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.

The Air Conditioning Smells Like Gas

If your AC smells like gas, it could be due to a natural gas leak in the unit or in another part of your home. Natural gas has a distinct aroma, 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 earlier, a natural gas leak can be VERY dangerous and calls for immediate attention. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off your air conditioning system, open windows and doors to air out the home, get everyone out of the building and phone your gas company or emergency services straight away.

Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Fish

If your air conditioning equipment smell like fish, this could be a sign of a build-up of bacteria or mold in the unit. Moisture creates an environment that is conducive to the growth of bacteria and mold. This can cause a disgusting odor that can be described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can create 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 becomes trapped inside the unit and dies.

To solve the issue, it's worthwhile to have a professional check out and clean your air conditioning system. They can determine the source of the smell and take the correct steps to remove any contaminants and keep the problem from recurring.

Why My Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

There could be several reasons your air conditioning system smells like vinegar. One possible cause of the smell could be a dirty air filter. Another likely cause of the smell could 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 essential to have a skilled tech inspect and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor lingers after the cleaning and replacing 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 tech can tell you if your air conditioning ought to be replaced.

If you are wanting to upgrade, Kirkfield Heating & Air Conditioning can help locate the correct unit to fit your home’s needs. We provide trustworthy, expert air conditioner installation in Winnipeg.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is emitting out of your air conditioning equipment, it could be the result of 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.

Another possible cause of the smell could be a problem with the electrical wiring or hardware inside the air conditioning system. This can cause a burning smell that is like chemicals or burning plastic.

If you believe there is a refrigerant leak or an electrical issue, 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 dangerous and may require immediate attention to avoid injury or damage to your house.

A Nasty Odor Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at Kirkfield Heating & Air Conditioning

If your air conditioner smells nasty and you aren’t able to fix it easily on your own, call the cooling specialists at Kirkfield Heating & Air Conditioning. We have lots of experience working with a wide variety of air conditioning systems. Our crew has fixed a multitude of air conditioning concerns through the years—including funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Winnipeg!