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My AC Smells Bad? 4 Reasons This Could Be Happening

If your AC smells bad, you’re likely wondering, “How do I get rid of the smell in my air conditioner?” However, before you can answer this question, you first need to understand what’s causing the smell in the first place. 

In many cases, you can figure out what’s causing the smell by determining what type of smell you’re experiencing. The type of smell could indicate a quick fix or a serious problem.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common AC smells, what they could mean, and what your next steps should be.

My AC smells moldy

If you’re experiencing a moldy air conditioner smell, don’t panic. This is an extremely common issue to experience, and you likely aren’t in any danger. A moldy AC smell might smell similar to something that is left wet for an extended period of time (like a wet bathing suit or towel). 

Typically, this means that you have some type of water leakage that’s resulting in a build-up of fungus or mildew. This could happen in a variety of areas, including your drip pan, filter, and ducting. In this situation, you should contact an HVAC contractor to identify the problem area and correct the issue. Unwanted moisture or water in your HVAC unit can lead to more serious (and more expensive) complications. And not to mention, you don’t want to be breathing in all that mildewy air.

Related Material: Your guide to preventative HVAC maintenance and optimization

My AC smells like rotten egg

If your AC smells like rotten eggs, you may actually have a dead rodent stuck in there. It’s important to remove any dead rodents as soon as possible for a handful of reasons. First and foremost, it’s a horrible smell. Secondly, it can have a negative and damaging effect on the internal components of your AC unit. If you don’t feel comfortable removing the animal and cleaning the impacted areas, then an HVAC contractor is definitely an option.

However, if the smell is more skunk-like, this may indicate a gas leak. This is a serious issue that should be handled immediately. You’ll want to get in contact with an HVAC contractor and have them correct this issue on your behalf. While you wait for assistance, you should not remain in the building. You may also want to open windows and doors, and steer clear of matches, appliances, candles, and other similar items.

Some people have difficulty differentiating the smell of rotten eggs from a skunk-like odor. If this is you, don’t hesitate to contact a professional. Better be safe, than sorry.

My AC smells like fire

There are a few reasons your AC might smell like smoke or fire. In any case, your first step should be to turn off your AC and contact an HVAC contractor immediately. When your air conditioner smells like fire, this could mean that the electrical components are literally burning inside your HVAC unit. It could also indicate that built-up dust or debris is also burning within your unit. 

My AC smells like car exhaust

If you’re smelling something similar to exhaust fumes from a car, then this could mean that you have a refrigerant leak. This can cause a number of problems for your HVAC unit and for your living or working space. Not only can it overwork your unit, but it can also be a sign that those chemicals are finding their way into your breathing air. This is another situation where you’ll want to have your unit inspected by a professional as soon as possible.

Related Material: Tips on how to reduce the spread of COVID-19 indoors

Need help figuring out why your air conditioner smells bad?

At BMI, we help businesses all over California keep their HVAC units working (and smelling) as they should. If your AC smells bad, we can help you inspect, diagnose, and correct the issue at hand. It’s important to remember, however, that the majority of common AC smells can indicate a serious issue that should be corrected as soon as possible. Don’t attempt to fix the issue if you are not familiar with HVAC units, and no matter what, do not postpone handling the issue.

Fill out our online contact form if you have questions or if you need help with proactive HVAC maintenance.