Dirty Sock Syndrome

dirty sock syndrome

When Your A/C Smells Like a Dirty Sock?

Have you ever turned on your air conditioner only to be met with a nasty odor? You were hoping for a cool, refreshing breeze and now you feel like you’re living in a middle school locker room. You’re most likely dealing with a bad case of “Dirty Sock Syndrome”. Trust us, that’s what it is really called. The worst part is that with spring time coming up, DSS is likely to only get worse. Lucky for you, exactly how to handle it.

What is Dirty Sock Syndrome?

Dirty Sock Syndrome is the foul, moldy smelling odor that comes from your air conditioner when you first turn it on.  It is caused by the buildup of mold and bacteria on your evaporator coil.  Mold and mildew can grow due to the moisture that builds up on your coil through continued use, is fueled by the dust that collects in your air conditioner over time from inadequate filtration and is especially common when your unit goes from a period of heating to cooling.  Especially in the Springtime in Florida and the other southern states, it is not uncommon for the heat to be on in the night and morning, only to switch to a period of cooling later in the day.  This heat mixed with dust and moisture in the darkness of your AC unit provides the perfect environment for DSS.  These are some of the reasons that it is so important to prevent mold and to provide adequate filtration for the air entering your air conditioner.

Is Dirty Sock Syndrome Dangerous?

Well it depends. Usually the answer is no, it is not dangerous. Dirty sock syndrome is caused by several different kinds of bacteria and mildews that usually aren’t harmful to your health under normal circumstances. You can get into a tricky spot though if mold gets introduced into your HVAC system and begins to grow.

Mold can be a health risk and should be handled appropriately. The CDC reports that most molds are only mildly toxic to humans and that symptoms in even heavily infested homes rarely progress past chronic coughing and wheezing however if you or someone in your family suffers from asthma, these symptoms could prove far more dangerous. This is obviously not desirable, so mold should be properly handled by you or your landlord as soon as possible. It is important to keep in mind that just because you have Dirty Sock Syndrome doesn’t mean that you have mold, so don’t go off the deep end; just open up your system and see what you’re dealing with.

How to Prevent and Treat Dirty Sock Syndrome

The most important factor in preventing Dirty Sock Syndrome is to make sure that you choose a high-quality air conditioning filter.  Mold, mildew and bacteria need dust and other porous substances to grow. Removing these from the air before they get into your coils is one of the key ways to prevent DSS.

The second way to prevent mold and bacteria from growing on your cooling coils is to use a UV air purifier.  These air purifiers have been used in hospitals for decades and quickly kill bacteria, mold, and its spores.

The only way to 100% eliminate Dirty Sock Syndrome and the odors associated with it, is to replace your evaporative coil. Often, depending on the age of your air conditioner, it may just be a good idea to replace the whole unit.

We know that having to do any kind of repair or replacement for your a/c unit can be worrisome but with spring time fast approaching, these are problems that can’t be taken lightly. If you live in Marion county, feel free to give us a call for a no obligation assessment of your unit. We here at ACE pride ourselves on giving you quality service at a fair price.