As summer temperatures continue to soar, many Texas homeowners turn to their air conditioners for relief. But what if you notice a strange smell? A chemical smell from AC units can indicate a bigger problem, like a leak needing repair.

The sooner you spot the problem, the sooner you can call for an air conditioning repair service. Don’t wait—discover the main reasons your AC can have a strange smell and what you can do about it.

Refrigerant Leaks: A Sweet Smell

The refrigerant in your air conditioning system absorbs heat and pushes out cool air into the home. If the AC smells sweet, it can indicate a refrigerant leak. Over time, the coils inside your system can crack, and the refrigerant can leak out, resulting in that “sweet” chemical smell from AC units. 

This is a problem for several reasons. Only a certified technician can inspect and repair AC leaks as refrigerant is toxic and flammable.

Older AC units may have used R22 refrigerant (R-22 freon). R22 is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), which damages the ozone layer and was phased out and replaced by R410A refrigerant.

Since the Clean Air Act prohibits the knowing disposal of appliances with dangerous refrigerants, you must properly dispose of a broken AC unit.

You can determine the type of refrigerant your AC uses by locating the nameplate or checking the owner’s manual.

In addition to a sweet, chloroform smell, you might notice some other signs of a refrigerant leak, such as a hissing noise, an increase in your energy bills, ice buildup, and warm air coming from your vents.

Air Cleaners: A Chlorine Smell

Does your AC system have an air cleaning feature? Electrostatic air filters create ozone, and this can also create a chemical smell. Ozone may smell like chlorine.

Unhealthy levels of ozone in the house can create a strong odor, and you may also notice symptoms like chest pains or trouble breathing.

You might be able to adjust your filter settings and lower them, so you’re producing less ozone. If the smell persists, you may want to contact someone to take a look at your system.

Gas Leaks: A Sulfur Smell

A rotten egg or sulfur smell should be cause for concern as this can indicate a natural gas leak. Take immediate action if you suspect a gas leak in your home. Turn off the gas supply, open the windows, leave the house, and call the fire department and your natural gas supplier.

A foul odor can also indicate a dead pest somewhere in your ducts. If it isn’t a natural gas leak, a bad smell in the AC might be a dead animal. Have your ductwork inspected and get the animal removed to solve this smell.

Open Chemicals

Sometimes a chemical smell may come from sources next to your AC intake rather than the unit itself. If you store chemicals next to it, like paint cans or cleaning supplies, these smells can travel through the house. Make sure you’re not storing any open chemicals near the intake and that none of these containers are leaking or damaged.

Chemical Smell From AC?

A chemical smell from AC units can be a simple fix, or it could indicate a bigger problem. If you notice any of the above issues and can’t resolve them on your own, it’s time to call for AC repair or replacement.

Let Dalton Air Conditioning & Heating keep your home comfortable all year round and request a service today. We cover Pearland, Friendswood, West University, and other areas.