Coronavirus Update: We care about your health and continue to service our customers safely. Read More

Skip navigation

(770) 982-9800

Serving the Snellville, GA Area Since 1988


Our Blog

What the Weird Smells From Your AC Might Mean

vent-cover-in-ceilingWhen you turn on your air conditioner during a hot and humid day in Georgia, you expect to receive cool air from it. You don’t expect to have weird or unpleasant odors emerge from your AC as well! Unfortunately, this does sometimes happen. When you’ve got an odd-smelling air conditioner, you may need to call our expert technicians for air conditioning repair in Athens, GA, since these smells often warn of a malfunction. 

What do these odd smells mean? We’ll look at some of the more common below.

Dirty socks

This is such a frequent issue with air conditioners that it has its own descriptive name: dirty sock syndrome. If you know something about why dirty socks can give off such an unpleasant odor, you’re already on your way to understanding what’s happening: you’re detecting the odor of bacteria. Where is it coming from? The biggest culprit is mold and mildew growing along the evaporator coil of the AC. This can occur because the AC isn’t effectively draining the moisture that collects along the coil while the air conditioner is running. All the air moving through the HVAC system will pass over this coil and pick up this bad odor. A dirty evaporator coil will cause the AC to lose efficiency, so you’ll want experts to examine the unit and figure out what’s wrong with its drainage. 


When the AC’s blower comes on, are you noticing a particularly dusty odor as well? If this is the first time you’ve run the blower for several months, then the smell is just an accumulation of dust inside the HVAC system getting blown out—the smell should go away in less than an hour. If the odor persists, you may have ducts that are extremely dusty and need to be cleaned. 

Acrid burning 

This is the recognizable odor of burning electrical components—and that’s probably exactly what’s happening with the AC. You’ll detect the smell if a motor in the air conditioner starts to burn out, or if there is an electrical failure in the control board. We recommend you shut off the AC right away to avoid further damage and call us for repairs ASAP.

Rotten eggs

The source of this is probably natural gas. Although natural gas doesn’t have an odor, gas manufacturers place a chemical called mercaptan into it so that people can detect leaks. Although your AC doesn’t run off natural gas, it’s usually in the same cabinet with a gas furnace—and a gas leak somewhere is getting into the air pushed through the AC. This is a serious problem. We recommend you shut off the gas to the house and call the gas company. Later you can contact us to see about repairs to your HVAC system.

Cigarette smoke

If you smoke in your home, your air conditioning system’s air filter will catch tobacco particles. Unless the filter is changed regularly, these particles will build up so that they circulate tobacco odor around the house, even when nobody is smoking. Change the air filter to see if this fixes the problem.

At Snellville Heating, Air and Plumbing, Your Comfort Is OUR Business. Rely on us whenever you have AC problems.

Comments are closed.