Your air conditioner smells weird and you need to know what's responsible — fortunately, you're in the right place for an HVAC smell diagnosis. The three most common (and hazardous) air conditioner smells are a burning metal or plastic smell, a scent of Sulphur or rotten eggs, and finally the odor of moldy, stinky socks.
You can't ignore any of these smells — in fact, all three of these odors are signs of potential danger to you and your central air system.
Learn why your air conditioner smells and bring out the HVAC pros to get your AC smell-free and 100% safe.
Do Your Vents Smell Different?
The more you rely on your air conditioner, the more you notice the smell. As you go throughout your day, you keep catching a whiff of an unusual, funky, downright unpleasant odor seeping from your air conditioning vents.
In fact, you start to wonder if the smell is normal and you can learn to live with it. Let us reiterate what you suspect: a smell coming from your vents is NOT normal and you NEED to do something to rectify it.
The ONLY thing you should ever smell from your vents is the faint, healthy smell of clean, conditioned-air. Any other vent smell, needs professional attention, bottom line.
Each of the three most common air conditioner smells come from a different source — and mean something different and something nasty.
Know These Air Conditioner Smells?
Meet the usual suspects. They stink, and they might mean your AC system is heading for a costly breakdown.
Stinky Socks/Mold & Mildew
Like three-day-old gym socks, this unique aroma smells downright filthy. A pile of foul footwear is such a good comparison, that HVAC techs officially call this the "Dirty Sock Syndrome."
So what causes your vents to smell like the bottom of an abandoned laundry hamper?
Bacteria. Huge colonies of bacteria.
Your central air ducts are an attractive place for bacteria to live, and when enough grow, you'll certainly smell it.
So what's the harm in that?
Beyond the funky scent, airborne bacteria can aggravate the breathing of people with allergies and asthma.
This stench reminds you of overheating electronics or plastic – a really heinous, horrible scent. You might also smell something similar from a cheap, quick-to-overheat electric razor.
So what causes this air conditioner smell?
Your nose knows. Like the smell suggests, something electrical is actually burning or about to start. The system's motor failing stands as the most common source, but it can arise from anything mechanical in your air conditioning unit going belly-up.
What happens if I ignore it?
Your air conditioner components can burn out, leaving you with no cool air and a hefty repair bill. Even though we're happy to repair your burned out AC, we'd rather not see you get in a bind.
Bottom line: Treat your wallet and nose with some respect — don't ignore this smell!
Rotten Eggs or Natural Gas
If your air conditioner smells like gas, which some people compare to rotten eggs, you need to take action ASAP!
If this smell is coming from your vents, you'll know. Good thing, too. Most often, this smell is caused by the additive in natural gas, which is otherwise odorless. Smelling this means you could have a natural gas leak in your home.
The leaked gas can get pulled into your central air system, becoming dispersed throughout the house.
It goes without saying that this can be extremely dangerous! If you believe you're smelling gas from your vents, call the gas company — preferably from your neighbors' house.
Need Help with Your Air Conditioner Smell?
Regardless of your air conditioning smell, you're going to be okay. You can count on One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning® of Southeast Pennsylvania.
When it comes to air conditioners, we have seen and smelled it all. Trust us to bust your air conditioner smells.