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Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell Like Vinegar?

You should always pay attention when you notice such smells. They could indicate that your AC needs to be repaired. If unpleasant or strange scents are emanating from your air conditioning unit, it is probably time to give the experts a call.


Why Does Your AC Smell Bad? Your air conditioner might emit all kinds of smells depending on its condition. The following are some of the most common odours people detect coming from their AC units, as well as some of the potential causes:

Vinegar – When the air coming from your air conditioner smells sour, like vinegar, the problem could be from an electric motor that is emitting ozone. Other possible reasons could be excess condensation on the coils, a malfunctioning filter, a clogged condensate pan, or mold in the ductwork.

Mildew – Do you detect a mildew scent near your air conditioner? The problem could be a clogged air filter. It could also mean that the drip pan or the condensate drain line is clogged. Another possible cause could be ductwork that is moist because the ducts are not properly sealed. A mildew odour might also mean that mildew is actually growing on some of the internal components of your AC unit.

Rotten Eggs – A rotten egg odour is nothing to ignore. This smell might indicate that an animal has made its way into your HVAC system and died there. Also, keep in mind that natural gas, while normally odourless, generally contains an additive called mercaptan. This additive is used so that people will smell it in case of a gas leak. If you suddenly smell rotten eggs when your air conditioning unit is on, contact your gas company and leave the premises. If they rule out a gas leak, then you should contact a professional HVAC specialist.

Dirty Socks – No one wants to smell dirty socks coming from the air conditioning, but it can happen. Unfortunately, it happens often enough that the occurrence is known as “Dirty Sock Syndrome.” The cause of this may be the presence of bacteria and mould on the air handler. Once the air handler goes into the defrost cycle and becomes damp, the odour will be detectable.

Strange smells coming from your air conditioning system can indicate that it is in need of repair.

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