What is Dirty Sock Syndrome? How Can You Safeguard Your Home Against It?Service Champions
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What is Dirty Sock Syndrome? How Can You Safeguard Your Home Against It?

April 23rd, 2016

If you’ve ever found your home smelling like a locker room but can’t quite figure out where the stench is coming from, it may be time to check your HVAC unit. Dirty Sock Syndrome is a common complaint with homeowners who use heating and cooling systems all year round, but it’s quite easy to fix and prevent.


What Causes Dirty Sock Syndrome?

The problem of nasty-smelling air coming from your HVAC system stems from the growth of mold and bacteria within the unit. Typically, these unwanted organisms live within the indoor coils of your air conditioning system, where they thrive on the moist environment and grow unnoticed till the foul smell draws your attention.

The indoor coils and heat pump of an HVAC system are ideal breeding grounds for bacteria and fungi, especially when you switch to using them for heating instead of cooling. As the unit begins to defrost and the ice buildup evaporates, the increased heat and humidity allows trapped odors to escape and the fan motors push them out to fill your home.

The problem isn’t brand-specific, and may be caused by the activity in the home and the products you use in it. Fortunately, with regular HVAC maintenance and a few simple changes to how you use it, your home can be free of the locker room smell!


How to Fix and Prevent Dirty Sock Syndrome

Here are a few simple ways to correct an existing issue with Dirty Sock Syndrome, as well as prevent it from coming back to plague you:

  1. Install a UV Filter – UV filters or lighting installed within your home’s HVAC unit can kill bacteria, mold and germs. This helps keep bad smells at bay (and incidentally, reduces allergy symptoms too) by preventing the growth of odor-causing organisms, and ensures that your home remains clean and healthy.
  2. Clean the Coils – Since the mold and bacteria that cause Dirty Sock Syndrome are found in the indoor coils of HVAC units, cleaning them is an effective way to tackle the problem. Keeping the unit clean with a non-acid coil cleaning solution will also prevent regrowth in the future.
  3. Coat the Coils – Cleaning with an antimicrobial solution is only a temporary fix, but you can extend the benefit by adding an antimicrobial coating to the coils and drain pans of your HVAC. Many brands offer units that already include this coating, and this goes a long way toward keeping bacteria and mold at bay.
  4. Schedule Professional Cleaning – While you may be able to conduct basic cleaning on your own, it’s far better to call in a professional for help. Older units may need to be replaced or repaired, especially if they haven’t been properly maintained. Experienced technicians will take care of HVAC repairs and cleaning for you.
  5. Run the Unit Often – Running your air conditioner frequently can help prevent the buildup of moisture within its indoor components. This effectively discourages bacterial and fungal growth, since most microbes need a warm and humid environment to thrive.

You don’t have to put up with Dirty Sock Syndrome, since professional HVAC maintenance can keep your home healthy and odor-free, all of the time. The licensed and experienced technicians at Service Champions can help you with HVAC, maintenance and cleaning.

You can bid goodbye to those nasty smells with regular service maintenance, so get in touch with us for an appointment today!

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