Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell Like Rotten Eggs?

Consider this scenario: the dog days of the Arkansas summer are in full effect, and it’s been a long day. All you can think about is getting home to your air conditioning and decompressing from the events of your day. 

However, as soon as you open your front door, the rank smell of rotten eggs infiltrates your nose. Maybe you forgot to take the trash out, but it could be something else: your air conditioner.

There shouldn’t be odors coming from your air conditioner vent. So now you’ll need to find a local contractor in Springdale, AR, to assess the situation. In the meantime, keep reading to learn about some of the most common AC smells and what causes them. 

The Most Common AC Smells and Their Causes

While it’s always best to contact a local contractor for air conditioner maintenance and repairs, it can be helpful to gather as much information as possible. This speeds up the process and gets your machine operating without the smell. 

Rotten Eggs Odor

When your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs or sulfur, it almost always means you have a gas leak in your home that is seeping into your ductwork. Natural gas is a potentially dangerous material. It can cause a fire, explode, or diminish oxygen levels in the blood, which can have severe and often fatal effects. 

If it is safe to do so, turn off the gas and make sure everyone exits the house. Then, report the leak by calling 911 or contacting your gas company.

Dirty Socks Odor

Dirty socks or stinky feet are often used to describe the odor that develops in your air conditioner due to standing water or bacteria growth. You may not enjoy the scent, but this air conditioning odor is usually not hazardous. 

To resolve this problem, check your air filter. If it is moist or clogged, it should be replaced. You’ll need to find a local contractor who can clean out your AC unit. 

Ideally, you should schedule this type of air conditioner maintenance annually to help prevent this unpleasant odor from filling your Springdale, AR, home.

Auto Coolant Odor

Antifreeze is an essential component of automobile coolant. It has a sweet odor, similar to Freon. However, Freon is a hazardous AC refrigerant that has been phased out. Older air conditioners may still have this chemical, which can leak, creating a dangerous situation as Freon is poisonous when inhaled. 

If you smell a sweet, coolant aroma, stop operating the AC unit and open the doors. Fresh air needs to circulate through your Springdale, AR, home. Then, the leak will need to be located and repaired by a trained professional. 

Musty Aromas 

Moisture can escape through the airflow, resulting in excess dampness in your air conditioner. This can become stuck in the ductwork, causing mold and mildew to form. 

Check your AC filter. If changing the filter doesn’t fix the problem, hire an HVAC specialist to perform duct cleaning and empty the condensate line. 

Burning Odors 

When you turn on the HVAC system for the first time each season, you may notice a slight burning odor. This is normal and nothing to worry about. However, a burning smell can also indicate an electrical fire threat, like a short circuit, motor overheating, or frayed wiring that is sparking.

If it’s just a slight smell, wait a few minutes to see if it dissipates. Otherwise, shut down the system and leave. You’ll need to call the fire department as a precaution. Then it’s time to consider a replacement air conditioner. 

Cigarette Smoke 

Heavy smoking indoors can cause cigarette odors to linger. Your air filter and evaporator coil trap the stale smoke, which gets recirculated through your home. 

If someone in your home smokes indoors, you should change your air conditioner’s filter every 30 days. At least once a year, schedule an air conditioner maintenance appointment for a comprehensive cleaning to prevent this smell from getting worse.  

Exhaust Fumes 

An electrically powered air conditioner shouldn’t smell like exhaust. That smell is produced by burning fossil fuels like gasoline. If you smell exhaust, there could be a leak in the refrigerant line or motor. The system should be shut down immediately and repaired.

Smells Like Skunk 

There’s no denying the unmistakable smell of a skunk. If it has been frightened near your air conditioner, it could spray the outdoor condenser unit. Unfortunately, the scent travels through your ducts and makes its way into your home. 

There’s not much you can do to prevent this from happening. But if it does, turn off the air conditioner to keep the odor as contained as possible. Open the windows and doors to promote fresh air circulation, and there’s no better time than the present to schedule a duct cleaning with your local HVAC contractor.

Smells Like Trash 

If it smells like garbage, you probably have a mouse, bird, or other critter rotting in the ductwork. Running the air conditioner is aiding in the spread of the smell throughout your Springdale, AR, home. 

This requires the work of a trained professional. They’ll need to remove the dead animal and clean your ductwork. Until your appointment, use the air conditioner sparingly to prevent the odor from continuing to spread. 

Addressing the Foul AC Smells in Your Home 

As you can see, your air conditioner can produce a wide range of unusual odors. Dirty socks, rotten eggs, or a musty odor coming from your ductwork are all signs of a problem that needs to be addressed. Ignoring these signs could put you and your family at risk of severe health issues or death. 

Springdale homeowners should never ignore strange odors coming from their HVAC system. The most effective way to resolve any issue is to have your cooling system inspected by a trained professional cooling services technician.

Find Out Why Your AC Smells (and Get It Fixed)

Is there a strange odor filling your home? Call Stith Plumbing & HVAC when you need help finding the source of your air conditioner’s smell.