Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell Like Fish? [Causes, and How to Fix]

Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell Like Fish? [Causes, and How to Fix]

You’re trying to enjoy the cool air from your air conditioner, but instead, you’re hit with a fishy smell. This can be caused by a number of different issues, and it’s important to figure out the source of the problem so that you can fix it.

Not only is a fishy-smelling AC unit unpleasant, but it can also be indicative of bigger problems. If left unchecked, these problems could lead to costly repairs or even the replacement of the unit.

In this guide, I’ll explain what causes a fishy smell in an air conditioning unit, and provide tips on how to fix it. We’ll also cover how to check for potential issues before they become serious and list some warning signs that something might be wrong. Finally, I’ll provide instructions on how to find an air conditioning professional in case of problems.

Why does my air conditioner unit smell like fish?

When certain plastic components in your AC overheat and melt, they give off a strong fishy, or eggy-type smell. If you smell a fishy, eggy smell coming from your air conditioning unit, it could be that some of your plastic components are melting and emitting smoke.

Another reason is when window air conditioners are not properly ventilated, they can start to smell like fish due to the build-up of algae or other bacteria. If left untreated, this can lead to serious health issues such as respiratory problems and headaches. It may also cause the unit to stop working altogether if the odor becomes too strong.

What are the causes of an air conditioner that smells like fish?

Overheating electrical components in your AC

An overheating electrical component in an air conditioner can cause the plastic coating to burn, emitting a fishy odor. The smell will then be drawn into the air conditioner through its intake vent and dispersed throughout the system. The place with an overheated component tends to have a stronger smell than other places.

Dirty internal AC parts

The internal parts in the air conditioner can become filthy over time due to debris, dust, and mold growing on them. This can lead to a fishy smell coming from the air conditioner as bacteria begin to grow in the dirty parts. It is important to maintain your air conditioner on a regular basis to remove any debris that may be causing this smell and keep all of its parts in good working order.

You have Garbage near the air conditioner

If there is garbage near an air conditioner and it smells like fish, it is likely because the trash has been left for too long and is beginning to rot. The smell of rotting garbage can seep into the air conditioning unit and make it smell like fish. This can be unpleasant for anyone who is using the air conditioner or living in the area around it.


An air conditioner that smells like fish could be caused by bacteria growing in the heat pump. Microorganisms thrive in this environment and can lead to severe health problems if left untreated.

The smell can be extremely unpleasant, and may even make it difficult to breathe in some cases. It is also a warning sign that your indoor air quality is being compromised due to allergen growth in the heat pump system. In order to resolve this problem, regular maintenance check-ups should be scheduled with a technician who will clean out any bacteria or other contaminants present.

Fishy Smell of Ammonia

An air conditioner that smells like fish could be caused by loose or frayed wires, overloaded circuits, faulty outlets, incorrectly sized breakers or fuses, or overheated electrical shielding or insulation.

This can lead to a potentially dangerous fire if left untreated. It is important to identify the source of the odor and take action immediately in order to avoid any potential hazards.

Mold Growth Problem

Mold growth within air ducts can be expected if homeowners are unaware of a potential leak in their air conditioning units. Drain lines can get clogged, or ventilation issues can cause excess moisture buildup leading to mold growth over time.

If you have not had a central air conditioner for a while, there is a possibility that one of the components in your system is moldy due to excessive humidity in the home without air conditioning. Mold and mildew can grow quickly in the air ducts when they become filled with unhealthy mold and mildew; this may come out when you turn on your new unit. To eliminate this problem it is important to schedule regular professional cleaning services for your unit and have any potential leaks repaired as soon as possible.

How to prevent the fishy smell in your Air Conditioner system from coming back?

Keep your air conditioner and vents away from the garbage

Examine the garbage cans around your house and relocate any that are near the air vents or air conditioning unit. Open windows to expel the unpleasant odor left in the room and turn on your air conditioner again to see if it helps alleviate the problem.

Make sure to remove trash from these areas regularly so that it does not continue to make a bad smell over time, especially if there is no ventilation in this area of your home or apartment complex. If possible, move these cans into another room that has better ventilation so they do not continue to cause problems with odor dispersions throughout your home or apartment complex area.

Always Inspect and Update the electrical system

  1. Conduct an annual electrical safety inspection to detect any problems early on.
  2. Update the electrical system of your Air Conditioner if you live in an old house to reduce the likelihood of overheated components causing a fire hazard.
  3. Have your Air Conditioner serviced regularly by a certified technician so they can check its components and make any necessary repairs or adjustments before problems arise.
  4. Check all cables, fuses, switches, and circuit breakers regularly for wear and tear or damage that could cause them to fail unexpectedly during the use of the system.

Always call professional Air Conditioner maintenance companies

Schedule regular HVAC inspections with a professional technician to ensure the efficiency of your system and prevent any potential structural damage.

Tips Get the fish smell out of the air conditioner

Inspect the air conditioner

1. Inspect the filter: If you haven’t changed the filter within the last three months, it’s time to replace it. Look for light coming through it to determine if it needs to be replaced.

2. Clean out debris: If there is visible debris clogging up your air conditioner, clean it out with a vacuum or broom and dispose of it properly away from your home or air conditioning unit.

3. Check for mold: Check around the air conditioning unit for signs of mold or mildew caused by excess moisture in the area, which can lead to an unpleasant odor if left unchecked for long periods of time.

4. Inspect ductwork: Make sure that all ductwork is free from blockages that could potentially cause an odor issue with your air conditioner system; this includes making sure vents are open and not blocked by furniture or other objects in the house..

Check for a clogged filter

Inspect your air conditioner filter to ensure that it hasn’t been clogged by dust or debris. If you can’t see light through it, it’s time to replace it. If changing the filter doesn’t fix the issue, contact Morgner Inc Air Conditioning & Heating at 314-262-4541 for professional assistance.

To prevent clogging in the future, make sure to clean or change your filter regularly (every three months is recommended). Additionally, only smoke outdoors and don’t allow smoking inside your home or apartment complex area as this can cause odors to accumulate in the filter and evaporator coil which may lead to a smell when you turn on your air conditioner later on down the line

Check the settings

Check the settings on your air conditioner to ensure it is running correctly and set to the right temperature. Increase the fan speed to help circulate air more quickly and efficiently throughout the room or space you are cooling down.

Turn on an air purifier or fan with an odor eliminator setting if there are still lingering smells after turning on your AC unit for several hours or overnight (if possible).

Adjust settings on any other household appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, etc., if they are located near where you store fish products so that they do not add additional smells into the area as well (ensure they are also turned off during non-use periods).

Make sure the air conditioner is operating properly

If your air conditioner smells like fish, there are a few possible causes. The most common cause is that the unit is not operating properly. This can be due to a number of factors, including a dirty filter, low refrigerant levels, or a clogged drain line. Another possible cause is that there is something wrong with the unit itself, such as a cracked heat exchanger.

  1. Check the air vents: If you notice an unusual or foul odor coming from the air vents, it could be a sign that something is wrong with your HVAC system.
  2. Inspect the unit: Have an HVAC technician inspect your unit to determine what is causing the smell and what can be done to remedy it.
  3. Maintain AC regularly: It is recommended to maintain your air conditioner on a regular basis to remove debris and keep its parts in good condition – this will help prevent fishy smells from developing inside of it over time.

Use air fresheners to eliminate the smell

To eliminate the fish smell from an air conditioner, use an air freshener that has a pleasant scent such as lavender or vanilla.

Have the unit professionally cleaned

One option is to have the unit professionally cleaned. This will remove any build-up of bacteria and algae, as well as any other debris that may be causing the smell.

  1. Remove the air filter and rinse it under running water, then use a brush to remove any remaining debris.
  2. Replace the filter after it has dried and turned on the air conditioner to see if the smell has gone away.
  3. If not, try cleaning the evaporator coil with a coil cleaner available on the market that can dissolve grime and debris inside it.
  4. Schedule regular maintenance checkups with a technician who can clean out bacteria and other contaminants from your HVAC system so you don’t have to worry about allergies or respiratory problems in future usage of this system.

Replace old or contaminated filters

The importance of replacing old or contaminated filters in air conditioners is two-fold. First, it prevents dirty sock syndrome by ensuring that the air circulating through the unit is clean and free from odors. Second, it ensures that the evaporator coil stays clean and functional, which helps to prolong its lifespan.

Regularly replacing old filters and scheduling routine maintenance with a professional HVAC company like Morgner Inc. Air Conditioning & Heating will help ensure the optimal performance of your air conditioner for years to come.

Check for obstructions in the AC system

If your air conditioner smells like fish, it is likely due to an obstruction in the AC system. Obstructions can be caused by a build-up of dirt, debris, or even fish parts. To remove the fish smell, you will need to clean the obstruction from the AC system. This can be done by hiring a professional AC company, or by following the instructions in your AC.

Some obstructions in the air conditioner system that should be checked for include:

  • Condenser coils that are clogged or dirty
  • Air ducts that are blocked or leaking fluid
  • Refrigerant levels that are low or unevenly distributed
  • Vents and registers that aren’t working properly or have debris blocking them.

Clean out the ventilator regularly

If your air conditioner smells like fish, it’s probably because there is a build-up of dirt and debris in the ventilator. To get rid of the smell, you’ll need to clean out the ventilator regularly. You can do this yourself with a vacuum cleaner and a brush attachment, or you can hire a professional to do it for you.

  1. Unplug the window AC from the power outlet and remove the front panel from around it.
  2. Use a mild bleach and water solution to clean both the front panel and air register, using approximately 1 part bleach to 3 parts water.
  3. Scrub all of the nooks and crannies on both pieces thoroughly, particularly around where the air filter is housed in the front panel.
  4. Rinse off with tap water once you are done scrubbing both pieces of plastic thoroughly with your bleach solution mix (use warm/hot water if possible).
  5. Examine your garbage cans around your house for any that may be near air vents or air conditioning units; relocate them if necessary or remove trash immediately from those areas if applicable (especially fishy-smelling trash!). Open windows to expel the unpleasant odor left in the room from the fish smell. Turn on the air conditioner again after doing so to see if the problem is mitigated.

Maintain the proper temperature in the home

Maintaining a comfortable temperature in your home is one of the best ways to prevent your air conditioner from emitting an unpleasant smell. When the temperature inside your home gets too hot, it can cause the AC unit to work harder than necessary, leading to an unpleasant odor. Keeping your home at a comfortable temperature will help keep your AC unit running smoothly and prevent it from emitting that fishy smell.

Call a certified electrician for house wiring issues and safety inspections

It is important to call a certified electrician for house wiring issues and safety inspections because they have the expertise and training necessary to identify any potential problems in your electrical system. Experienced electricians can also detect issues early on, which can save you from potential safety hazards down the line. Additionally, they will be able to replace any components that are malfunctioning or no longer functioning properly, ensuring that your home remains safe.


Why does my window air conditioner smell like fish?

If you notice a fishy smell coming from your window air conditioner, there’s a good chance that the unit is harboring mold or mildew. These fungi love to grow in damp, dark places and often thrive in an Air Conditioner’s coils providing the perfect environment for them to flourish. It could also be that there is an internal plastic material overheating.

How can I tell if the fish smell coming from my air conditioner is caused by mold or mildew?

  1. Check for a fishy odor near the air conditioner. If you notice a strong fish smell coming from your window unit, there is a good chance that it is harboring mold or mildew.
  2. Clean the coils of your air conditioner with a coil cleaning solution, or make your own by mixing equal parts vinegar and water. Be sure to dry them thoroughly before turning the unit back on after cleaning them.
  3. If the fishy smell persists after cleaning the coils, inspect the drain pan that collects water that condenses on the coils for signs of mold or mildew growth. Remove it from the unit and scrub it with a mixture of bleach and water if necessary.
  4. If necessary, have an HVAC specialist inspect your ductwork for any signs of mold growth in order to identify where exactly it is located in order to properly clean it out

Are there any safety risks associated with the fish smell coming from my air conditioner?

The fishy smell coming from your air conditioner could be due to an overheating electrical component, garbage, or mold in the HVAC system. If left untreated, the smell could become stronger and more harmful, potentially leading to serious health issues such as respiratory problems. Additionally, it may indicate a larger problem with your AC system that needs to be addressed by a professional ASAP.

Why does my AC stink like fish?

The AC unit could be dirty and needs to be cleaned, or there could be a dead animal somewhere in it. It could also be that the fishy smell is coming from the drains due to a build-up of moisture. If left untreated, this can lead to health issues such as respiratory problems and headaches. Additionally, it will make your home environment much less comfortable since the odor is unpleasant and difficult to remove completely.

Why does my air conditioner smell like fish when I turn it on?

The smell of a fish, when you turn on your air conditioner, could be due to several different factors. It could be because there is actually burning plastic somewhere in the unit. It also could be due to algae or other bacteria that have built up in the unit. Finally, it could be due to a leak in the unit that is allowing Freon or other chemicals to escape into the air conditioner system and causing a fishy smell.

This can result in an unpleasant odor when you turn on your air conditioner which may make it difficult for you to breathe comfortably in your home. It can also cause damage to your AC system if not addressed quickly by an experienced professional who can identify and fix any issues quickly before they become worse than they already are!

Why is there a bad smell coming from my air conditioner?

The air conditioner can develop a bad smell for several reasons, such as dust and dirt accumulating on the coils, a leak in the refrigerant line, and not using it for a while. The buildup of mold and mildew can cause the air conditioner to smell bad, as well as make you physically sick due to poor indoor air quality. It can also overload your immune system due to low-quality air in your home.

Does burning electrical appliance smell like fish?

Yes, burning electrical appliances can produce a fishy or urine-like odor. The odor can be carried throughout the house by the HVAC system and become more or less intense depending on changing temperatures and circuit usage. This makes it difficult to identify the source of the smell and which outlet may be causing it.

The smell is usually an early indicator of a serious electrical problem that could lead to a fire, so it is important to have your electrical system inspected when you notice this odor near any outlets or devices.

What can cause a fishy smell in the home?

The smell of fish in a home can be caused by overheating electrical components such as circuit breakers, outlets, wiring, etc. Other potential causes include: rotting food; leaking sewer gases; algae growth in the HVAC system; dead rodents or birds somewhere in the home.




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