There's nothing pleasant about the aroma that comes from a pile of dirty, sweaty socks. It's even more unpleasant when that very same odor starts coming from your HVAC system. This is what's known in the business as "dirty sock syndrome" and it can drive your nose crazy with its dank, moldy odors if left to its own devices.
If you're tackling this rather unique problem, then read on to understand the causes as well as a few ways you can put an end to those odious odors.
What Causes It
The main cause of dirty sock syndrome can be traced to mold and bacteria buildup on and around the evaporator coil. Located in the dark and damp confines of your HVAC system's air handler, the evaporator coil offers the perfect place for mold and bacteria to proliferate. Inadequate filtration can also add to the misery, as additional dust and debris enters the HVAC system.
Dirty sock syndrome can do more than make your home smell unpleasant every time you use your HVAC system. The accumulation of mold, mildew and bacteria can also impact your home's indoor air quality. If you suffer from moderate asthma, allergies or have a compromised immune system, then you may find yourself suffering symptoms commonly associated with mold exposure.
Treating the Issue
You can start tackling dirty sock syndrome by checking and draining the condensate drip tray. This is where water vapor ends up after the evaporator coil condenses moisture from the passing air. You'll want to make sure the tray drains properly. If there is standing water in the tray, vacuum it up with a wet/dry shop vacuum and use the vacuum's suction to dislodge any clogs found in the drain line.
Next, you'll have to clean the evaporator coil. The easiest way to do this is to mix a solution of one part bleach and three parts water in a bucket. Use a soft-bristled scrub brush to thoroughly scrub the evaporator coil. Afterwards, rinse the coil with distilled water and disinfect the condensate drip tray with bleach to prevent mold growth.
Last but not least, remove your HVAC system's old air filter and replace it with a new, clean filter. Without this step, you won't be able to read your HVAC system of its unpleasant odor.
You can prevent dirty sock syndrome from getting a second wind simply by following these important steps:
- Change your HVAC air filter on a regular basis. Most experts recommend changing it every three months, although changing it every single month can do wonders for your home's indoor air quality.
- Invest in a set of UV germicidal lamps around your evaporator coil. The ultraviolet light emitted by these lamps can effectively curtail bacteria and mold growth.
- Have your HVAC system serviced by a certified and experienced HVAC technician from a place like Advanced Air Quality Services. Your technician will be able to spot the makings of mold growth and take steps to combat it before it turns into a major problem.
These steps can help keep dirty sock syndrome at bay and your home more comfortable.