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What To Do When Your Home Air Conditioner Smells Like Paint Thinner


If you’re having trouble keeping your home cool in the summer, you may be experiencing a problem with your air conditioner. If your air conditioning unit is not working as it used to, or something is making the unit smell like paint thinner, something is definitely wrong with it.

If your air conditioner smells like paint thinner or some other chemical aroma, it is likely that one or more fluids are leaking from your air conditioner. Don’t let your house smell like gas as fluids from the AC system are toxic and affect the indoor air quality. Here are some of the reasons your air conditioner smells like paint thinner.

What Does It Mean If Your AC is Giving Off as Smell?

Air Conditioner Smells Like Paint Thinner

Unpleasant odors from air conditioners can have a variety of origins. Here are some of the chemical smells you can detect and their corresponding problems: 

Paint Thinner Smell

If your house smells like paint thinner, you should check out if there’s a leak in your air conditioning unit. If this is the case, there’s a huge chance that your air conditioner may be having a refrigerant leak, freon leak, or another fluid leak. 

Air conditioners use refrigerant to extract heat from the warm air in your home. The refrigerant passes through copper coils that are closed. These copper coils might shatter over time, allowing the refrigerant to leak. 

Apart from that, volatile organic compounds can also be the cause of paint thinner odor. VOC is an organic solvent emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. Breathing VOC can cause irritation to the eyes, skin, and other body parts.

While these are two very common reasons your house smells like paint thinner, they’re not the only ones. If you notice smells like paint thinner, you should immediately call your local technician to fix the issue.

The Smell of Rotten Eggs

There is almost usually only one explanation for an air conditioner that smells like rotten eggs or sulfur: your home has a gas leak that is leaking into your ductwork. Natural gas can have severe lethal repercussions. The chances of catching fire and lowering blood oxygen levels are high.

If you smell rotten eggs inside your air conditioner, you should contact an AC repair service immediately. It would be preferable if everyone in your house was evacuated as well until the issue was resolved. If you smell gas, call your local gas company as soon as possible to turn off your gas.

Burning Smell

There’s nothing wrong with a faint burning smell. However, a strong burnt scent may pose a potential electrical fire threat. The smell could be from the circuit board or fan motor on your AC.

If you detect that your air conditioner has a burning smell but are unable to identify it, it’s possible that the fan, compressor, wiring, or another electrical component in your air conditioner has burned out.

Nail Polish Remover or Spray Paint Smell

An air conditioner makes use of chemicals to function and alternate between gases and fluids. These chemicals are called refrigerants and they work to change the hot air into cool air, which will blow from your air conditioning unit. When the air conditioner finds itself in a state of malfunctioning, this can cause leaks to occur in the unit due to its copper coils breaking and leading to leaks. 

If you smell a hint of nail polish remover, spray paint, or any chemical smell, you should contact an aircon technician to solve the problem immediately.

How to Neutralize Paint Thinner Smell in My House?

Good news! You can neutralize paint thinner odors with some items in your home. Try the following to get rid of the paint thinner smell in your house:

Use Vinegar

White vinegar actually performs wonders as an all-natural, all-purpose cleaner. Vinegar helps draw out any unwanted moisture or other impurities that are affecting the system.

Step-By-Step Process:

  1. Fill the bowls with vinegar and let the acids in the vinegar do their work.
  2. In just a few hours, the vinegar will absorb the smell of paint thinner.
  3. After a few hours, dispose of the vinegar in your sink.

Try Baking Soda

Baking soda can be used to remove odors from almost anything, including the smell of paint thinner. After letting the baking soda sit, the scent can be reduced over time.

Step-By-Step Process:

  1. Sprinkle some baking soda near your air conditioner or put it on a plate.
  2. Let it sit for some time.

How to Remove Paint Thinner Smell

The first step to solving the problem is to find out what’s causing it. If your air conditioner smells like paint thinner, here are some of the initial check-ups to try:

Clean Your Air Conditioner Filter

If the paint-thinner smell still persists, it’s time to clean your filter. Cleaning your filter regularly will help to keep your home’s air conditioning system running smoothly and minimize the risk of problems down the road.

To clean your filter, follow these steps:

1. Open the cover on the air conditioner and remove the filter.

2. Wash the filter in warm water using a mild soap.

3. Rinse the filter with cold water to cool it.

4. Replace the filter and close the cover.

Change Your Air Conditioner Filter If Needed

If your home’s air conditioner still smells like paint thinner despite cleaning it, it’s probably time to change it. When your air conditioner filter becomes dirty, the unit struggles to remove dirt, dust, and other contaminants from the air. This can cause the air conditioner to work harder to cool down your home, and may also cause paint thinner odor.

For more information, you can read our blog about air filters.

Check To See If Your Air Conditioning Unit is Leaking

If you’ve been living in a constant state of humidity, your air conditioner is probably not the only thing that’s been wearing out. Between the heat and the moisture, your air conditioner is probably dealing with a lot of wear and tear.

One of the signs that your air conditioner is on its way out is when it starts to smell like paint thinner. This smell is caused by the chemical refrigerant, which is leaking from the unit.

To check for freon leakage, you’ll need to remove the cover and take a look at the unit. If you see any signs of leakage, like puddles of freon, you’ll need to replace your air conditioner.

Check To See If Your Air Conditioner is Broken

If all the above-mentioned steps don’t work, it might be time to take it to service for repair. Strange unknown fumes such as paint thinner odor can be dangerous and shouldn’t be kept long inside your home.

To determine if your AC is in need of service, first check to see if the indicator light is on. If it is, the AC unit is probably broken and you will need to get it fixed. If the indicator light is not on, but you still smell paint thinner, it might be the best time to get a new air conditioner.

A broken AC unit can cause a host of problems, from smells to sickness from the fumes. If you think your AC is in need of service, don’t hesitate to take it to your local HVAC technician.

Final Thoughts

If you’re experiencing an unpleasant smell coming from your home air conditioner like paint thinner, there’s a good chance it’s due to a chemical leak in your unit. This toxic smell can spread throughout your home, and if left untreated, it can potentially damage your AC unit and harm your health.

To prevent this from happening, you should immediately contact the manufacturer of your unit and avail yourself of their air conditioning services. if you’re still smelling paint thinner, you can replace your air conditioner for a safer experience.

A paint thinner smell or any chemical scent from your air conditioner should be checked out by a professional aircon expert as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can try to reduce the amount of paint thinner smell by opening all your windows and using a dehumidifier.

JP Reyes

JP has been in the aircon industry for almost as long as he has been alive. As a child JP would help his tatay fix aircon units at their junk shop in Cavite. After graduating UP in the early 2000's, JP then started his own Aircon servicing business and within 5 years had 10 shops in 8 different cities. Fast forward to today and JP brings all his experience and expertise online to give readers trustworthy advice and reviews about Air-conditioning buying, servicing, cleaning and repair in the Philippines.

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