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Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell Like Sewage? (Explained)

Air conditioners act as a blessing in disguise, especially in countries with high temperatures. 

The scorching summer heat is enough to ruin your good night’s sleep but thanks to air conditioners for letting you sleep peacefully while fighting the excessive summer heat. 

Even while traveling for hours in the heat, you can easily become exhausted. Air conditioners act as a life savior then as they can be used in cars. 

There are numerous advantages of having access to an air conditioner. However, if they start releasing a smell like sewage, all their life-saving attributes turn into a nightmare. 

So, here rises a question. Why does an air conditioner smell like sewage and how can we fix it? If you are also looking for the answer, then you are at the right place. 

Air conditioner smell like sewage

An air conditioner can smell like sewage due to the vent of the AC getting exposed to a sewer line or a sewer vent pipe. It can also be caused due to the presence of departed animal remains on the air conditioner vent. If your sewer line backs up it can also result in a sewage smell being released. 

On sweltering summer days, air conditioning offers a nice breeze, but when that wind smells like sewage, it’s not exactly delightful. Air conditioners are meant to provide you with a good night’s peaceful sleep but instead, the sewage smell might keep you up all night. 

There are certain reasons why this sewage smell is released from air conditioners. It varies from one type of air conditioner to another.

There are other types of smell that an air conditioner can release such as a rotten egg smell, stinky feet odor, sulfur odors, etc. Each smell indicates a different type of problem. 

However, a sewage smell in each type of air conditioner indicates a very similar problem. Below given is a list of air conditioners and an explanation of the different reasons for this disgusting occurrence. 

Portable air conditioner

Like central air conditioning systems, a portable air conditioner can also smell like sewage for various reasons. 

Clogged filter:

One of the major reasons for a portable ac to smell like sewage is a clogged filter. Over time, dust and other tiny particles accumulate on the filter of the air conditioner. 

The filter’s job is to prevent this debris from entering other AC components. 

But eventually, when the accumulation of trash reaches a certain point, the air conditioner begins to smell like sewage. 

A blocked filter also makes it difficult for air to flow freely through the air conditioner. This not only makes the sewage smell worse, but it may also make the appliance less effective.

Deceased animals: 

Deceased animal remains inside your portable ac can cause a foul sewage-like smell to occur. 

Animals such as rats can get trapped inside the portable air conditioner which can result in the sewage smell being released whenever the AC is turned on. 

Rv air conditioner

Rv conditioners work by removing the heat from your recreational vehicle. The sewage smell can occur due to a few specific reasons. 

Grey tanks being left open: 

When the grey tanks are left open, the air conditioner draws in sewage odor from the grey tanks. The gasses enter your system from your sewage drain outdoors and ascend directly.

As we know they work by replacing the heat. Instead of replacing the heat with fresh cold air, they bring in the sewage smell. 

Leakage in pipe: 

It often denotes a clogged sewage line or burst sewer vent pipe close to the ducting of the Rv ac. A small amount of methane from the backlog is all it takes to fill your Rv with the unpleasant odor of sewage. 

Car air conditioner

As horrifying as it sounds, a car air conditioner can also give off a sewage-like smell. It is very common. 

Age of the car: 

Bacteria, mold, fungus, and other microorganisms may begin to proliferate as the car ages. On the evaporator, these bacteria frequently develop below the dash panel. The air conditioner starts to emit a sewage-like smell as a result.

Gas leakage: 

If there is a gas leakage then the gas gets drawn into the fresh air that the air conditioner is absorbing as a result the sewage smell gets dissolved with the fresh air. 

Can a dirty air conditioner filter make your house smell sewer?

Yes, a dirty air conditioner filter can make your house smell like a sewer. This is because a dirty air conditioner filter can be clogged and as a result, it gives off a sewer smell every time it is turned on. 

As the air conditioner releases the sewer-like smell into the house, the smell dissolves with the fresh air circulating the house causing it to smell like a sewer. 

A dirty air conditioner also prevents air from passing inside the air conditioner. Due to this reason not only will your house smell like sewer, the appliances stop working at any time. 

It is essential to clean the filters frequently to get rid of debris. The presence of bacteria in the dirty filters can also cause a sewer-like smell to be released. 

How do I stop my air conditioner from smelling like sewage?

There is nothing more frustrating than coming home after a long tiring day and having your home smell like sewage. And the smell becomes stronger when the air conditioner is turned on. 

There are certain reasons why your air conditioner can end up smelling like sewage. They need to be fixed immediately as it is not only frustrating but it is also hazardous as there might be leakage. 

Below given are ways that can stop your air conditioner from smelling like sewage. 

Cleaning the filter: 

The first step would be cleaning the filter. As we know dirt and debris give birth to bacteria on the filter and it results in giving off a smell like sewage, cleaning the filter or changing it will help you to get rid of the smell. 

There are also changes that a departed animal such as a squirrel or rat has been stuck on the back of the air conditioner so cleaning and removing that will help get rid of the smell. 

Running water:

Running the water in all of your sinks once a month to fill the P-trap and establish a barrier against sewer aromas is one approach to stop sewage smells from entering your AC.

Plumber or mechanic: 

If the air conditioner in your house is releasing the sewer smell then chances are there that your pipe has been exposed to sewage smell. In that case, you need to contact your local plumber and get all the pipes in your housing system checked. 

If this issue is persistent in your car then your car needs to be taken to the mechanic shop as there can be a gas leakage causing the fresh air in your air conditioner to be replaced with the contaminated sewer smell. 

How do you clean an AC drain line?

Here is a step-by-step guide for you to clean your AC drain line and get rid of bad odors. 

Turning off your AC:

The first step would be unplugging your air conditioner from the main line.

Find your drain line: 

The next step would be searching for your drain line. The drain line is located near your house’s walls. It is in the form of a PVC pipe. 

Look for the obstruction:

The drain line consists of a T shaped pipe which comes with a cover. You need to remove the cap and look for blockage. 

Use vinegar:

1/4th cup of vinegar is then needed to be added through the hole where the obstruction is. It is advised to use ordinary distilled vinegar. However, you can also use peroxide, hot water, and a little dish soap. 

After that let the vinegar sit for 30 minutes and continue this process once each month. 

How to prevent the air conditioner from smelling like sewer?

The first and most basic step of preventing the air conditioner from smelling like a sewer is keeping the filter clean. 

It is essential for you to clean the filter once every 2 days to make sure it is not clogged. Also, you need to clean the rain pipeline once every month using distilled vinegar. 

Also, remember that your AC needs servicing after it has stayed dormant for a long time especially after winter. 

Final Thoughts 

To sum up, air conditioners smell like sewage for reasons such as clogged filters, gas leakage, broken pipe, etc. There are ways to prevent this from happening. The methods are discussed in detail above. Always clean the filters and wash your drain with distilled vinegar.