What is Dirty Sock Syndrome and How Can You Avoid It?
What is "Dirty Sock Syndrome"? Dirty Sock Syndrome is caused by bacteria growing on HVAC system coils, and refers to the unpleasant odor that comes from your residential or commercial heat pump coils.
- "Cooling coils and other AC components are not made in sterile environments, meaning that microbes cover all of their parts along with a small amount of lubricant."
- "During the first cooling event after installation, condensate brings life to the microbes, which initially use the lubricant as an initial food source." Microbial decay (better known as "rot") is the culprit of the foul stench that smells like a dirty sock.
- During certain times of the year when a heat pump may warm in the morning hours and then cool at noon and/or later hours, the system can produce condensate from noon onward, fueling growth for up to 16 hours - only to release odors and toxins during the next morning's warming hours. Heat pump coil temperatures are often not sufficient to kill proliferating microbes. Those that may die simply serve as a future food source for continued proliferation.
How Can You Get Rid of Dirty Sock Syndrome?
- "Our first step is always to schedule an on-site visit to take a look at the setup and size of the air handler unit. We also take this opportunity to check for any visible mold growth in the ductwork."
- "The second step is the "full system and evaporator coil cleaning, which involves: flushing the coils, determining the cause of the syndrome, as well as the cleaning and/or applying a sealant."
How Can You Avoid Dirty Sock Syndrome in the Future?
The best way to avoid dirty sock syndrome from occurring in the first place is to ensure that your HVAC system is serviced on a regular basis. After all, a good offense is always the best defense - even if the syndrome has already occurred, a thorough cleaning can prevent the problem from happening again.
More info? Check out Coil Cleaning and Energy, to learn more about coil cleaning and how regularly scheduled HVAC coil and air duct cleanings can save energy and improve system efficiency!