Signs from Scent: Finding Complications in Your AC by Smell

Apr 6, 2021 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Your AC units keep you cold during the summer seasons or when mornings and afternoons need to be extra cool throughout the year. Like any appliance, it can deteriorate through overuse or old age. This is why it’s necessary to identify signs of damage before it breaks down completely.

Detecting signs of damage through smell

It’s more typical to hear clanging components or performance issues with a broken AC unit to show signs of deterioration. However, it’s not impossible to manifest symptoms of damage through odd kinds of smell. Different scents can indicate a particular problem, with some requiring more urgent attention than others.

In this article, we’ll share five smells that can indicate a potential issue with your AC unit.

1. Car exhaust smell

Although some AC units are typically noisy with low humming, that doesn’t mean that it operates on combustion similar to a car engine. If your air conditioner seems like it’s releasing exhaust fumes, it could be a symptom of heated fluids. This can be a leak in your refrigerant’s line, which releases a combination of chemicals that smell similar to engine exhausts. Besides being identical in stench, it’s also equally deadly to you and the environment.

2. Burnt smell

A little bit more distinct than a car exhaust is the smell of burning components. Since an AC uses different electrical components like circuit boards and compressors, they can overheat due to a technical complication. It can smell like burnt plastic or gunpowder, signifying that your AC’s interior parts work overtime or experience a faulty connection. It’s best to hire an HVAC expert to identify the true cause of the smell, especially if it remains even after turning off your unit.

3. Gas smell

A distinct smell of gas can indicate a gas leak within your AC system. AC manufacturers add a methyl Mercaptan solution to ensure that consumers can be aware of a gas leak in their products. The foul smell can notify them of damage to the ductwork due to leaks or other complications.

4. Rotten eggs smell

Your AC unit typically has an indoor and outdoor component, with the latter exposed to the elements. Since it’s an enclosed structure, some tiny pests and rodents can nest inside it if you don’t clean it regularly. If you notice a distinct smell of rotten eggs when operating your AC unit, it can be an indicator of animal waste or carcass trapped within your AC’s ductwork.

5. Musty smell

A musty smell is a symptom of mildew or mold growth inside your AC’s different components. Since your AC unit usually expels water from its drip lines, the accumulation of stagnant water can give mold and mildew spores the right conditions to grow. Even ductless units can be at risk of these contaminants if you don’t regularly check their connections.


After evaluating your AC unit’s condition, you have two options to choose from. You can pay to fix the issue and assess and other signs of damage to give it another few years of usage. On the other hand, if the damage is too great, it may be time to invest in a more modern unit to prevent frequent repairs in the future. Regardless of what option you take for your AC, it’s important to contact a reliable plumbing company for your AC repairs or installation.

A broken AC unit is no simple matter which can only get worse the longer you ignore its need for repairs.  At Emergency Plumbing and Heating, we can properly diagnose your AC problem and fix it ASAP. If you need a 24 hour AC repair service, contact our plumbing experts today.

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