Foul Smell from Split AC? What is the Solution?

This page may contain affiliate links. Read the disclaimer to know more.

If you are getting a bad smell from AC for some time then it can indicate many things from gas leakage to burnt motors.

Most probably it is due to the clogged drain pipe, dirty water tray, and dirty air filters.

This post covers the reasons why you have a foul smell coming from it along with their solutions. You may find the cause from the type of smell pointed in the next section.

For any kind of smell, it’s best to call an AC technician or servicemen.

Reasons your AC is smelly

1. Dirty Socks or Stinky Feet like Smell

If you are getting stale and dingy smell similar to that of dirty socks when left unwashed for a long time.

This indicates mold and mildew formation in the condensate tray or water tray, drain nozzle and drain pipe.

In a very humid outdoor environment, the air filters clogged with dust can also develop mold.

The air filters, water tray needs to be cleaned.

Fungus and mold formation can decrease the life of the indoor body and the evaporator coil with time if not cleaned properly.

Sometimes the smell can also come from micro fungus formation on the evaporator coil but this is rare.

Solution: Clean the water tray and the drain pipe. This is easy and can be done by yourself but you can also call for AC servicing. 

2. Rotten Egg like Smell

If you are getting a rotten egg-like smell this indicates that some living creature has died inside the air conditioner unit.

This can be a dead rodent, dead lizard, or tiny bird.

In the case of split AC, this is rare for the indoor unit but possible for the outdoor unit. However, you will not get the smell inside the room if something is decaying inside the outdoor unit.

This is more possible in the window AC.

Solution: It is crucial that you remove the dead carcass or body as soon as possible or the smell will increase in magnitude day by day.

If not solved within time the dead critter will produce worms, and other microorganisms.

Call for professional help.

3. Car Exhaust like Smell

Your air conditioner is running while you are sitting in the room and you get a car exhaust like smell.

There is no car or combustion engine near, then why such a smell.

This can be due to refrigerant leakage or other fluid leakage in the AC. 

If it is gas leakage this means there is a hole in the coil, this needs to be fixed after which you need to get the gas refilled.

Solution: Contact an AC professional and get your AC examined for leakage and gas pressure.

4. Burning Smell

There are a lot of components inside like compressor, motor, fan, PCB, wiring.

If you get gunpowder like smell or plastic burning smell this indicates one or multiple of these electrical components are burning.

You should immediately switch OFF your AC if such is the case.

In a power surge, voltage fluctuations, or high load on the AC the compressor motor can heat.

Due to incorrect wiring, or damaged PCB the AC can work incorrectly leading to a short circuit or burning.

If you use MCB with your air conditioner, then the burning smell can come from this device also.

Solution: Immediately switch OFF the AC and call for AC service.

5. Cigarette Smell

Never smoke cigarettes inside the room where AC is running. 

Not only is it harmful for your health but also if you do so.

Then you may get a cigarette smell in the future even if no one in the room is smoking one.

How is it possible?

The smoke particle gets absorbed in the air filters and coats the evaporator coil.

It is very easy to clean the air filters but not the evaporator coil by yourself.

Solution: Get the air filters and indoor unit cleaned especially the evaporator coil by a professional. Contact for AC service near you.

Don’t ignore the smell

For most of the reasons listed above, all can be easily fixed by yourself.

And if you get your AC serviced regularly you will never get most of the smells.

But few cases and smells should not be ignored and be taken care of and be fixed asap by professionals.

Only in a few cases like burning and car exhaust-like smell you need to be careful.

You must contact a service company or professional technician for help.

Therefore you should not ignore such smells by using a deodorant or room freshener.

Regular Servicing is important

If you regularly service your AC you will never get any kind of problem like AC not cooling or any kind of smell.

Whether your AC is working properly or not.

You must get it properly serviced once or twice a year.

By doing so the probability of any malfunction that can happen in the future is reduced and the technician can identify the issue early.

Regular servicing makes the AC work at its optimum efficiency. This also prolongs its life and saves money.

Futher Reading

Leave a Comment is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to If you purchase using any amazon links on this website then I get a small commission for it.