Being a homeowner sometimes means having to deal with some unpleasant things.
In fact, you will probably be surprised by some of the issues that come up around a house that you have likely never heard of in the past.
One of these is when your air conditioning starts to smell like vinegar.
The probably with this is that it usually indicates a breakdown of the system that will need your attention.
In addition, the smell is going to make the entire house unpleasant to spend time in.
If you are experiencing this issue, we have all the answers that you need to help take care of things and move forward with a better-smelling air conditioning system.
Why Does My AC Smell Like Vinegar (Reasons)
There are a few reasons that your air conditioning could smell like vinegar.
The main reason has to do with the electric motor that could be emitting ozone.
However, there are also a few other reasons that this could be occurring.
The smell that you notice may seem similar to vinegar or it could also be a bit of a sour smell.
Here are the reasons that this could be happening.
1. Electric Motor Emitting Ozone
Air conditioning units use ozone to try and clear the air and reduce biological pathogens.
There is quite a bit of debate over whether or not this is necessary and the fact that this ozone can harm the environment.
The electric motor that is inside the air conditioning unit can sometimes have issues when they are starting to fall apart.
When this happens, there is a chance that it will emit ozone, and the smell will be harsh.
The other thing about this is that the fact that your air conditioner is doing this is also not good for your air quality.
You will want to have this air conditioning unit repaired or replaced as soon as possible to ensure that the issue goes away.
Continuing to breathe in this contaminated air could have some negative impacts on your health.
2. Excess Condensation
Air conditioning units always have to deal with condensation.
The condensation is created when the unit is working properly and ensuring that the cool air is being pushed into the home.
The problem is if the air conditioning system is not working correctly or there are extreme temperatures, the machine could create too much condensation.
When this happens, it tends to collect in the wrong areas, and you will smell the sour vinegary smell coming from the unit.
3. Malfunctioning Filter
A filter is an essential part of any air conditioning system.
If you are a homeowner, you should be checking your air conditioning filters periodically to make sure that they are functioning as they are designed to.
Some AC filters can often be cleaned and reused, but many will need to be replaced entirely.
If you have not looked at your AC filter in some time, it makes sense to give it a look and make sure that it can function properly.
4. Clogged Condensate Pan
When the AC creates condensation, it is supposed to collect in a pan.
This pan then drains outside so that there is no water collecting around the internal parts of your HVAC or AC unit.
The problem that can occur here is that the pan will end up getting clogged from time to time, and the condensation just gets stuck and builds up.
Of course, this is a problem because of the importance of this water flow and not letting the dirty condensation water collect.
The smells of a clogged condensation pan are usually pretty obvious and will make you realize that there are some steps involved to getting the home smelling as it should.
5. Mold In Ductwork
Last but not least, there is a chance that your air conditioning smells because you have mold in the ductwork in your house.
Mold in the ductwork is a major issue, and this mold can end up making you sick.
Of course, the home ductwork system is designed to not allow this to happen, but there are sometimes outside influences that can cause an issue like this.
Mold in the ductwork will need a company that can fix it properly and ensure that your home is back up and running and safe to live in.
Why Does My AC Smell Like Vinegar? (Fixes)
Now that we have given you some of the most common reasons your air conditioning may smell like vinegar, it’s time to look at how to fix these issues.
Although each of the issues is different, there are a few basic steps you will need to take to find the cause of the issue and then have it repaired properly.
1. Do Some Investigating
The first part of this process is to see if you can figure out what the issue is.
If you are not someone who has any experience with air conditioning systems, then you may want to skip this step entirely and call in a professional.
However, if you have some basic home improvement skills, it could benefit you to at least figure out what the issue is.
If you determine the issue is something that you can’t fix, then you may want to consider using a professional, but at least you will have given it a try.
The investigation should be a little easier now that we have given you the main reasons behind the air conditioning smelling like vinegar.
2. Replace Air Conditioning Filter
Regardless of your ability to repair a home air conditioning unit, you should be able to replace AC filters.
Replacing your AC filters is part of routine maintenance.
To do this, you will need to learn what to do with a filter and ensure you are doing it from time to time.
The replacement of an air conditioning filter is a good way to start the process of removing the vinegar smell.
This is essentially the least difficult issue to deal with when it comes to air conditioning repair.
Therefore, it makes sense to cross this off the list and move on, hoping that it could have just been a filter that needed your attention.
3. Treat Issue Yourself
If the air conditioning filter is not the cause, yet you can find something that is creating the problem, like a clogged condensate pan or mold in the ductwork, you may be able to try to fix these issues yourself.
There is one thing that you should be aware of before you start trying to fix these things.
Many times, the reason that people don’t try to fix their own air conditioning is that they could actually do more extensive damage to the air conditioning.
If you end up causing more damage, the manufacturer’s warranty could be rendered void, and you will be left with a mess on your hands.
A simple issue like changing a filter is smart to do on your own, but sometimes trying to get involved with an electrical motor that is malfunctioning will end up being a mistake.
4. Call In A Professional
Most people who are experiencing an issue like their home smelling like vinegar because of the air conditioning will end up calling in a professional to help.
If you are trying to live in a house with this issue, chances are you are going to be extremely uncomfortable and ready to get out of there.
Air conditioning professionals can come to the house and have your air conditioning smelling better in a relatively short time.
Although this will cost you some money, most will find it to be money that is well spent.
Why Does Your Air Conditioning Smell Bad?
Now that we have covered extensively why the air conditioning may smell like vinegar, there are other smells that you will sometimes have to deal with when your home has air conditioning.
If you are noticing these and ready to try and get your house smelling good again, here are a few of the potential causes that could be behind the issue.
Remember that most of these issues will require a professional to ensure that they are fixed, and your home can smell like it should once again.
1. Mildew Smell
One of the most common issues that you might smell coming from your air conditioning unit is mildew.
Mildew is a bad smell because it makes many people think that they have a mold problem in their home.
Although mildew can be a sign of this, it does not always mean there is reason to panic.
The mildew smell is most likely a clogged or dirty air filter.
A simple replacement of this air filter could be all that is necessary to have your air conditioning smelling like it should.
Another reason your air conditioning could smell like mildew is that the drain line is clogged.
If you remember, we said that the AC unit has a lot of condensation.
This condensation will collect and then need a place to drain to the outside.
If the condensation cannot drain and it sits in the lines of the AC drain, it can start to smell.
Stagnant water in any area of the house like this is not a good thing, and you will often find that letting it sit just continues to get worse.
The last reason that your AC could smell unpleasant is that the ducts are starting to grow mildew.
This is an issue because the ducts are going to spread this mildew and mold smell into the rest of your home, and it can result in a dangerous situation for the inhabitants.
Having the ductwork inspected and repaired will help to ensure that you are safe and that your home AC is working as it should.
2. Rotten Egg Smell
Another interesting smell that you can sometimes experience from an AC unit is a rotten egg smell.
The rotten egg smell can sometimes be an animal that has made its way into your HVAC system.
This is a major problem, and not only will this animal need to be dealt with, but there is likely an issue in the home that allowed this animal to get in.
You may need both a pest control person and an air conditioning person to fix this issue.
The smell is also hard to get rid of, and it could be expensive to get this entire issue worked out.
One other thing that all homeowners should be aware of is that natural gas can sometimes smell like rotten eggs.
A rotten egg smell is added to natural gas to encourage you to get out of the house and ensure that you are away from any potential harm if you have a potential natural gas leak,
The rotten egg smell from a natural gas leak often comes on strong, and it happens very fast.
The first thing to do when this happens is to exit the house as soon as possible.
Call your gas company and let them know the issue before you attempt to go back into the house.
They will quickly send over a technician to investigate and put an end to the rotten egg smell.
3. Dirty Laundry Smell
Have you ever felt like your air conditioning system smells a bit like dirty laundry?
This is a common smell, and unfortunately, it is not a pleasant one.
As a homeowner, the biggest issue with the AC having smells is that there is really no way to contain them.
As you know, the air conditioning unit has ductwork that helps run the cool air through the entire home.
Therefore, if one room starts smelling like dirty laundry, pretty soon, the entire house is going to smell like it.
Overall, the dirty laundry smell could mean the presence of bacteria and mold in the AC system.
These are not great issues to have, and they need to be dealt with immediately.
Chances are this dirty laundry-type odor started rather mild and has continued to grow in intensity.
When you are dealing with an issue like this, the thing that homeowners should be aware of is that chances are the smell won’t just go away.
You are probably going to have to do something to intervene, or the smell will continue to linger.
Since there are potential health risks involved with letting mold continue to grow in your air conditioning unit, you need to handle this issue sooner rather than later.
Even if you can’t exactly determine what your air conditioning unit smells like, but you know it is a problem, it is something that you should look into and try and figure out.
Sometimes it will be as simple as putting a few drops of bleach in the drain line.
Other times, it will require a professional to clear out the ductwork so that mold is not growing in there.
The most important thing is to have it looked at and dealt with right away.
How Expensive Is It to Repair An AC Unit?
Chances are that the thing that has kept you from calling your HVAC contractor about a fix for these funny smells is the cost.
People are often nervous about any types of issues that come up with an HVAC unit because the overall cost of this system is relatively high.
However, with smaller-scale issues, you might not be looking at very high expenses every time.
Air conditioning contractors know what it costs to replace a system.
They won’t be able to make their pricing so high that an entire system replacement would make more sense for the homeowners.
Expect to pay anywhere from around $50 to $150 for the diagnosis of the issue and then a fee for fixing whatever the problem may be.
If the issue was as simple as a filter replacement, your entire fix could be less than $100.
The other thing to keep in mind is that you can ask for all expenses before having the system fixed.
Don’t be afraid to ask about the rates before the air conditioning company even comes to the home.
If you understand the issues that are involved and can give a bit of insight and ask the right questions, you won’t be taken advantage of.
Even if you can’t fix the systems and appliances around your home, it pays to understand the things that are going on and to be able to speak intelligently about them.