Why Does My AC Smell Like Vinegar? Comprehensive Guide With Expert Opinion

It is definitely not a pleasant smell, but ever wonder why does my AC smell like vinegar? But it’s nice to know that you’re not the only person who has experienced this issue. Along with the smell, your air conditioning unit might also sound louder than usual. But before you call a maintenance specialist, take a look at this article for help! We cover what type of AC unit is likely causing it and how to fix it yourself!

What Type of AC Unit Causes Vinegar Smells?  

AC units most are hybrids that have features of more than one type. There are seven types of air conditioning units. They are split type, packaged systems, multi-split systems, ductless mini-split systems, central air conditioners with heat pumps, wall mounted ac units, and portable ac units. On top of this you get your car Ac units as well.

What Causes the Vinegar Smell?

The most common cause of the vinegar smell is the refrigerant in your AC unit. Many chemicals can be found in an air conditioning unit that could cause strong odours. However, the more likely culprit of the vinegar smell is trichloroethylene (more commonly known as “Freon”). Freon has been used since 1928 for refrigerants and throughout North America is still very popular due to its effectiveness on cooling homes. 

While it does not pose any threat to humans like other refrigerants, it can cause accidents in the workplace. Freon has been associated with the smell of vinegar in common areas of homes. Freon can cause that smell because when the gas is mixed with water, it releases an odour similar to vinegar. It can also cause headaches and dizziness at high levels. 

The smell of Freon isn’t the only problem associated with this gas. It’s also known to create ozone which can affect indoor air quality, increase energy costs and make it difficult for asthma patients to breathe. It has been linked to other health issues, such as skin irritation, coughing, and nausea, among others.

What Can You Do to Fix the Smell?

If you are experiencing the smell of vinegar in your air conditioning unit, there are a few things that you can do. First, try to determine what kind of ac unit you have. How do you know what kind it is? It will have one or more units outside your house that are connected through pipes. For multi-split systems or central air conditioners, these pipes will extend throughout your entire house and be inside the walls. 

If you find yourself having this kind of system, it is recommended that you contact an specialist AC technician to come out and inspect your system for any Freon leaks. 

They will be able to tell you if the leak is coming from the refrigerant lines. If it’s not, you can try changing your filters or repairing any small leaks yourself. For split type and ductless mini-split ac units, Freon usually leaks through cracks in the lines.

This can cause a large amount of Freon to escape and travel over long distances, where it mixes with the air and eventually seeps into your home. Fortunately, many people have seen success by thoroughly cleaning and replacing their AC unit’s Freon lines and then adding a sealant around them as an extra precautionary measure.

Why Does My AC Smell Like Vinegar

Steps to Get Rid of Vinegar Smell in My Air Conditioner

If you are currently experiencing the smell of vinegar coming from your AC units, we can recommend you few simple steps which you can follow to fix this issue. First, turn off the unit. Then open all other doors in your home to allow fresh air to come into the house. You may also leave an open window in one room to help air out the disinfectants or chemicals that seeped into your AC unit through the cracks.

If you get pets in your home, it’s very important that they do not enter any rooms where the odour is coming from so they do not get sick by this gas or chemical. Open a window in a different room of your home and place a fan in this room, so it sucks fresh air in. This will ensure the air circulation throughout the entire house to clear out the dirty air.

If you find that the vinegar smell is still strong, you can leave your windows or doors open for 24 hours to help air out the unit. If it still smells, run your AC unit at full blast with no vents for at least three hours, with all doors and windows closed to clear out any odours inside your home. 

If several days have passed without any change, you may want to contact someone who can inspect the ducts inside of the unit. They will be able to identify any possible damage and recommend a solution.

Check your filtration system.

If you think that the problem is leaks or holes in the air conditioning unit, try checking your filtration system and ensuring it is clean and functioning correctly. It’s important to check these things first before contacting a professional to inspect your AC system for Freon leaks. If you continue to smell this odour, you may want to call them anyway.

Another Way to Remove Vinegar Smell from Your Air Conditioner

Now that you know what is causing the odour, the next step is to figure out what you can do about it. There are three key things to ensure when dealing with this issue: safety, cost, and cleaning. If you want to be extra careful, make sure to hire a professional AC technician to take care of the problem for you. The good news is that they’ll most likely be able to fix it and get rid of that vinegar smell quickly and easily!

The cost of repairing your air conditioner should not make up too much of your budget. The average unit costs around $200 to repair. That cost does not include the new air filter, which should be replaced for between $20 and $50.

You Need to Spend Some Time on This Repair

The third factor that you should consider is how much time you are willing to spend on this project. If you decide to do it yourself, you may have to order some new parts. Many shops will only sell new parts these days. Or you can get the parts by ordering online. You’ll also want to spend time cleaning or replacing the air filters.

What Is the Best Thing to Get Rid of the Smell In Your Home and Car?

One thing you can do to get rid of that smell is to make sure you have air filters in place. The best air filters will keep the vinegar and bacteria from getting into your air supply and causing more problems. If your air filter is old, then it’s time for a change! If your system does not come with this feature, you may want to purchase some extras.

The second thing you can do is to make sure you routinely change the air filter in your home and car. You should also make sure to wash or replace the air filter in your unit every month or so. This keeps the vinegar away from other parts of the system that are less resistant to corrosion. 

This includes the coils and condenser fins. You can use a different part of the house where possible while you’re waiting for parts to arrive or if it is your car do it outside.

The last thing you can do is to make sure you’ve properly maintained your AC unit. This means regular maintenance and checking the refrigerant levels in your system. Be sure to make adjustments when necessary. Maintaining your system will lower the chance of a leak and will prolong its life. Now let’s find out other reasons why does my ac smell like vinegar.

Other 4 Reasons Why Does My AC Smell Like Vinegar

1. Leaks: 

This is an inexpensive and quick fix, but it’s also one of the most common reasons for vinegar smells coming from your AC. If liquids are leaking out of your AC system through condensation, they may contact things such as carpets or drywall, both of which harbour bacteria that give off odours that then enter into your air ducts and vents.

The easiest way to check for leaks is by turning off your unit and opening the front panel. You should then be able to see if standing water is present in the cabinet. If so, you know that you’re leaking and need to do something about it.

Another method of checking for leaks is by using a fog detector; this device, which looks like a light bulb, can be purchased at most hardware stores or home improvement stores. 

Plug it into an electrical outlet and hook up the hose fitting to one of the outside-facing parts of your AC unit. Then turn on your AC and watch for fog around the sensor. If you see fog, then you know that there’s a leak that needs to be repaired.

2. Broken or Damaged Hoses: 

Another common reason for odours coming from your AC unit is a damaged hose. While this isn’t a very expensive fix, it can still be a nuisance if you can’t repair it yourself. If the hose itself is broken, then this means that air is being forced through broken or cracked hoses, making an unpleasant smell as a result.

In this senario, the best course of action would technically be to replace both the hose and broken connections with new ones and place some insulation around them so that they don’t come into contact with any moisture.

If your hose is dirty or clogged, on the other hand, then you can do a temporary fix by first unscrewing the hose from the back of your AC unit and draining out as much of the water as possible. Then take a towel and thoroughly mop up any remaining water from your AC unit. 

Next, use a spray bottle to apply some white vinegar inside of your unit’s unit, then replace any matted-down parts that might have been sticking to the inside. Finally, install a new hose on top of those matted-down parts, applying some mink oil to help lubricate them as well.

3. Cleaning or Replacing Filters: 

While you should always have a spare filter on hand, the habit of constantly replacing them can be a huge pain when it comes to keeping your AC clean and fresh all the time. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to tell if your filters are damaged unless you try and use them, but fortunately, it’s not very difficult to replace them. 

Just remove the old filter by following the directions that come with it; this should allow for easy replacement without opening up your AC unit.

4. Keeping Your AC Unit Clean: 

Next to simple leaks, another common reason for foul smells coming from your AC unit is a lack of maintenance. Even if you only use your AC during the summer months, you should still pay attention to keeping it clean and free of dust and dirt. If it’s dirty, the odour from bacteria in the air ducts can make it smell pretty bad.

The most efficient way to clean your AC unit is by turning off the power and opening up the entire cabinet. Then you can use a mop or some rags on them to wipe down both the inside and outside of each part that’s visible from the outside. 

Next, you should apply some paper towels to both the inside and outside of your unit’s cabinet before closing it up and running it for about 10 minutes. This will allow the AC to run for a while and help dry any areas that still have moisture in them.

To help prevent future buildup of dust, you should also keep the outside of your AC unit clean. If you see the dust on the outside, then it’s likely that there’s either an air leak or that your air ducts are dirty.

How to Clean an Air Conditioner Yourself

If you don’t want to hire a company and pay someone else to clean your air conditioning unit, you should consider doing it yourself. This can be a tricky process, but we’ll explain it all below:

What Supplies Do I Need?

Before you begin cleaning your unit, you will need all of the supplies used when cleaning an AC. These supplies will come in handy later on. The supplies you need are a bucket, a hose, a sponge or towel, and Liquid detergent.

The below steps will help you clean your air conditioning unit on your own. Please make sure to read them carefully before beginning the process.

Step 1: Start by going to the outside of your unit and using a hose to spray water on all four sides. By carrying out this activity you can get rid of loose debris that might be on your AC.

Step 2: Now it’s time to wash your AC with a sponge or towel that has been dipped in hot, soapy water. Do these steps very slowly and carefully, as it is easy to damage your AC if you don’t know what you’re doing. You can move the sponge in circles and do not apply too much pressure while doing so. You should also make sure to rinse off any soap that you apply during this step.

Step 3: Next, use a hose to spray down your AC once again. Make sure to spray water directly on the unit’s coils to get them clean.

Step 4: Use a sponge or towel, along with some detergent, to clean any dirt and grime off of your AC’s screens and fins. Be sure you do this part slowly, so you don’t accidentally damage anything while doing so.

Step 5: Once everything has been cleaned, it’s time for you to wipe down your AC once again with a damp sponge or towel that is free of soap. This will remove any soap residue that might be left behind.

Congratulations! You have now successfully cleaned your air conditioning unit without having to spend a dime.

How to Clean an Air Conditioner Yourself

Here are a few more products you can use to get rid of that vinegar smell:

Baking Soda: Sprinkle some baking soda around the air conditioner and let it sit for an hour. Vacuum it up, and your air conditioner should be as good as new!

Dish Soap: Fill a bowl with warm water, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of dish soap, and then submerge in warm water. Let the air conditioner sit in the bowl for an hour before vacuuming it up. Let it dry before using your central A/C unit again!

Air Conditioning Maintenance Tips

It is advisable to use a blower, leaf rake, or vacuum cleaner on the cooling coils. Never use ammonia alone to clean the coils of an air conditioning unit. This can cause damage to the system and may give off unpleasant odours after it dissipates. Never use bleach, ammonia, or any other cleaning substance on your air conditioner. Use a vacuum cleaner equipped with a hose attachment to suck up leaves and debris from the outdoor coils. 

This helps eliminate the indoor contaminants that can build up in your air conditioning system and reduce its effectiveness. A dirty indoor coil can decrease the efficiency of your air conditioner by 30 percent, causing you to run it longer and consume more energy than necessary. 

I know this is quite a long article, but I believe this article has enough information to help who’s looking for answers to why does my ac smell like vinegar.