When your air conditioner starts putting out weird or funky odors, it is important to take notice because it could be a sign of a big problem. Ignoring unpleasant smells coming from your cooling system could lead to further 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 may be bacteria or fungus in the system. On the other hand, it could also sign something mechanically wrong with the air conditioner. Some smells are a sign of a dangerous situation, including a natural gas leak.

At MPC Heating & Cooling, we are skilled at diagnosing and fixing these type of problems. If you smell something odd coming from your cooling system, there's a good chance our team of skilled pros has smelled it, too—and fixed it! We’ve earned the reputation as the premier company for air conditioning repair in Chadron.

What does a certain smell billowing coming from your cooling system mean? Here are some typical air conditioner smells and what they may mean:

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Feet

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

Another possible explanation for the smell could be a dirty air filter. If an air filter becomes choked with dirt, dust and other debris, it can result in poor air quality and a musty smell that resembles 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 exchange the air filter routinely to promote good air quality and restrict the formation of bacteria and fungus.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your air conditioning equipment reeks of rotten eggs, it may be due to 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 because of a substance added to it to make it easily detectable.

A natural gas leak 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 air out the area, get everyone out of the building and call your gas company or emergency services at once.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Mildew

If your AC smells like mildew, it might be due to a accumulation of moisture inside the unit. When moisture accumulates inside the air conditioning system, it can cultivate the growth of mold and mildew. This can cause a musty smell that bears a resemblance to mildew.

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

Regular air conditioning maintenance from MPC Heating & Cooling can help protect against both of these situations, because a good cleaning, inspection and filter change is a terrific way to keep your system working at its best!

Your AC Smells Like Urine

One of the most distressing scenarios is when an air conditioner smells like urine.

If your air conditioner smells like urine, it could could be caused by multiple factors. One possible cause is a buildup of bacteria or mold in the your cooling system. This can happen when moisture accumulates in the system and creates a moist environment that can promote bacterial growth. The bacteria can emit a foul odor that is like urine.

Another feasible cause of the smell could be a plugged 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 collect inside the unit. This can produce a musty smell that resembles urine.

Your AC Smells Like Burning Plastic

If your air conditioner smells like burning plastic, this could indicate an electrical concern with the unit. After some time, the electrical parts in the air conditioning system can wear out or break, which can produce a burning smell that resembles plastic.

Another possible root cause of the smell could be a foreign object stuck in the the air conditioner. If something foreign gets stuck in the air conditioning system, it can heat up and cause a smell like burning plastic.

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

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your AC smells like gas, it could be because of a natural gas leak in the unit or in the surrounding area. Natural gas has a distinct smell, often described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur. That’s because an odor is incorporated into natural gas to make sure that it is 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 call your gas company or emergency services as soon as possible.

Your AC Smells Like Fish

If your air conditioner smell like fish, this could be a sign of 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 sometimes described as smelling like fish or, as mentioned earlier, it also can create a smell like dirty feet.

Another possible cause of the smell could be a dead animal or other biological material stuck in the air conditioning system. This often can take place if an animal such as a mouse or bird is trapped inside the unit and dies.

To correct the issue, it's often necessary to have a professional check out and clean your HVAC system. They can find the source of the smell and take the correct steps to remove any contaminants and keep the problem from recurring.

Your AC Smells Like Vinegar

There could be several reasons an AC smells like vinegar. One possible cause is a clogged air filter. One other potential cause of the smell may be a refrigerant leak. If the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that is described as smelling of vinegar.

To fix the issue, it's important to have a skilled tech inspect and clean your air conditioning.  If the odor lingers after the cleaning and exchanging the air filter, it's best to reach back out to a professional to identify and repair any underlying issues with your air conditioning. Or, they can tell you if your air conditioning needs to be replaced.

If you are planning to upgrade, MPC Heating & Cooling can help find the right unit to fit your home’s needs. We provide dependable, professional air conditioner installation in Chadron.

My Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If the smell of chemicals is coming from your air conditioning unit, it could be the result of a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant leaks, it can create a chemical odor that people sometimes describe as smelling like chemicals or paint thinner, vinegar or acetone.

An additional possible cause of the smell could be something wrong 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 believe there is a refrigerant leak or an electrical concern, it's important to turn off your air conditioning system as soon as possible and contact a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Refrigerant leaks can be hazardous and may require immediate attention to avoid injury or damage to your house.

Strange Smell Coming from Your AC? Call the Pros at MPC Heating & Cooling

If your air conditioner smells nasty and you aren’t able to fix it smoothly on your own, reach out to the cooling experts at MPC Heating & Cooling. We have years of experience working with a wide variety of cooling systems. Our crew has fixed many air conditioning troubles throughout the years—including funky smells. Call us today for quality AC repair in Chadron!