Don’t Be Caught with Dirty Sock Syndrome

Don’t be caught with Dirty Sock Syndrome, that moldy, smelling odor that comes from your air conditioner.   This happens when moisture, dirt and dust accumulate on the AC’s evaporator coil, becoming a Petri dish for bacteria and mold.  That bacteria and mold then gets blown into your home when the air conditioner is turned on.

Dirty Sock Syndrome usually happens during the spring, when the AC system is not running as frequently and moisture and dirt have more time to build up on the evaporator coil.  If your home is cooled and heated with a heat pump, this problem may surface in the fall as well.

The build-up on the coil may be more prevalent if the correct air filters are not installed and replaced on a regular schedule.  Routine maintenance is also recommended.

Is Dirty Sock Syndrome Toxic?

The main cause of the locker room musty, sock smell is mold and mildew. A bad smell may not be toxic, but mold and mildew should be taken seriously.  This can cause people with asthma or allergies to have increased symptoms.   Fortunately, Dirty Sock Syndrome can be fixed by a professional HVAC technician.

How is Dirty Sock Syndrome Managed?

First, the coil should be cleaned with special chemicals and compressed air.  This job is best suited for a professional technician.  Older air conditioning units generally are more prone to this issue, and cleaning the coil can be dicey work.

If the problem persists after the coil has been thoroughly cleaned, a new evaporator coil may be the answer.  If your unit is more than ten or fifteen years old it might consider replacing it.

Other Possibilities for Musty AC?

If the smell is constant it is probably not Dirty Sock Syndrome.  It could be that the drain pans are dirty.  It could be a malfunction of or dirty drain lines.   An air conditioner tune-up can correct a number of these issues and increase the unit’s overall efficiency.

If your air conditioner smells bad or you suspect you may have Dirty Sock Syndrome, schedule an appointment with Polar Heating and Refrigeration today at (505) 250-2329.  They are Albuquerque’s home comfort expert, specializing in installation, repair, and service of heating and air conditioning systems.