Different Types of AC Smells And How to Fix Them?

Identify types of AC smells and ways of how to remove bad smell from split AC with Sandium. Visit us to get help if your AC smells musty.

Updated on Oct 22, 2023
5 min read
Different Types of AC Smells And How to Fix Them?

Imagine coming home after a long, hot day (or a nice cool day in your Bay Area office) only to switch on the air conditioner and get enveloped in a cloud of bad smell. This post will talk about common reasons behind stench and what you can do to fix them yourself.

1. You Smell Car Exhaust

Air conditioners should not be smelling like car exhausts since they don’t run on internal combustion engine. However, there are certain fluids in an AC that can smell like exhaust fumes when heated. Such a smell would most likely mean that there is a leak in the refrigerant line. Leaks can impair the performance of your air conditioner and cause hazardous conditions.

Freon is a chlorofluorocarbon, which is being phased out, but is still one of the most common refrigerants used in air conditions. Freon has a sweet chloroform smell. You should be able to detect a faint smell of car’s coolant. You should have your air conditioner checked out by a professional as soon as possible if it emits a chemical-like smell. Don’t forget to crack open a window and ventilate the house while waiting for the technician.

2. You Smell Something Burning

An air conditioner has several electrical components, such as power wires, circuit boards, compressors, and fans. If you smell burning plastic or gunpowder, there is a high likelihood that these components may be on fire. You should turn off the air conditioner immediately and call the local professional. Electrical components are dangerous and you should not attempt to fix it.

Dust is another common reason for a burning smell. Dust can settle inside the air conditioner after a prolonged period of inactivity. The dust may burn off and give off a bad smell when turned on after some time. However, the smell in this case is only temporary and should go away on its own after a few minutes. Don’t hesitate in turning off the unit if the smell persists or becomes more pungent.

3. You Smell Rotting Eggs

Rotten or foul air conditioner smell is usually because of the presence of dead critters or rodents stuck in the AC. This is a distinct smell, and you cannot mistake it for anything else. Insects and birds routinely take refuge in the ductwork and get trapped. These dying animals can produce unpleasant smells as they rot.

Animals stuck in the air conditioner can damage different components as well. Lizards and unpleasant critters may get into the indoor unit if you have a ductless air conditioning system. You can always fix this issue on your own by removing the carcass or have an air conditioner technician fix it for you.

4. You Smell a Skunk Like Odor

This is one of the most alarming air conditioner smells because it indicates Methyl Mercaptan leakage within the system. Natural gas doesn’t have any smell. However, Methyl Mercaptan is added by gas distributors to provide it with a significant odor in the event of a leak.

If you smell a hot skunk spray inside your home, it is probably from the air conditioner. The gas may be getting into the ductwork. You should turn off the gas supply immediately at the first sign. You should contact your utility so that they can detect the source of the leak and repair the problem. 

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