Common Air Conditioner Smells And What They Could Mean

Air Conditioner Smells

The central air conditioner unit at your home plays an important role in providing energy efficiency as well as  ensuring your comfort. This is why homeowners should always be on look out for signs, which indicate that there is a serious issue with the AC unit. By identifying the signs and dealing with them expeditiously, you will be able to prevent air conditioner downtime.

Homeowners might miss out on some of the most common signs that indicate issues with their air conditioner. However, most of us never miss out on the foul smell or strange odor that comes out of an air conditioner unit. Air conditioner units often operate with a little sound, but they should never give out a strange odor.

So, if the air conditioner unit in your home smells bad or funny when you turn it on, then it means that there is an issue with the system. If that’s the case, it is best to get in touch with a central air conditioner repair technician to resolve the issue.

Common Air Conditioner Smells

Your central air conditioner might produce different types of odors based on the underlying problem. Here are some of the most common air conditioner smells and what they really mean.

The Smell of Dirty Socks

If the air conditioner unit is generating a smell that is similar to the smell of dirty socks, then it can make you and your family feel uncomfortable. Air conditioner units usually emit such a smell due to the presence of filthy evaporator coils within the system.

Filthy evaporator coils result in bacterial and mold buildup, which will in turn produce the smell of dirty socks. You can find that this smell is more concentrated in places where you are using the unit for heating during the night. You can resolve the issue by cleaning the evaporator coils and unclogging drain pans by hiring an air conditioner repair technician.

Chemical Smell

If your air conditioner unit is generating a chemical smell when you turn the system on, then you should immediately seek the help of an HVAC repair technician. This is because chemical smells from air conditioner units are usually due to a refrigerant leak, which is a serious issue that can even result in failure of the unit.

Chemical smells coming out of an AC are not the only sign that indicates there is a refrigerant leak. Hissing and bubbling sounds that you may hear when you turn on your AC might also indicate the chances of a refrigerant leak. If you can spot the leak quickly, then you might be able to fix it with just a few repairs.

Burning Smell

Some homeowners often complain that their air conditioner unit is generating a burning smell when it is turned on or when it is running. The burning smell in the system might be because of a broken capacitor, loose electrical connections, or a broken fan belt.

It is best not to ignore the burning smell and get in touch with an AC repair technician immediately. If you ignore the smell, then it can lead to a number of issues including fire. However, you should never check the air conditioner unit on your own. Instead you should seek help from an experienced and certified air conditioner repair technician.

Final Thoughts

In addition to above-mentioned smells, you might also notice a vinegar-like odor coming out of the air conditioner unit. The common reasons for such a smell are excess condensation, mold buildup in ductwork, clogging of condensate pan or air filter. However, an air conditioner repair technician should be able to identify these issues easily and resolve them appropriately.  

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