It’s Spring and the heating and cooling Cincinnati experts are excited! The sun is shining, there are smiles all around, you turn your air conditioner on, leave the house to go run some joyful errands, and you return to…your house smelling like the dirty clothes hamper? Ew! Don’t be too turned off; this is a common problem that the Cincinnati heating and cooling experts know quite well. Additionally, this has a name in the heating and cooling industry: ‘Dirty Sock Syndrome.’ This occurs when your air conditioner gives off a moldy, mildew-like smell when you turn it on. If you notice a change in the aroma, you don’t have to put up with it. Instead, the heating and cooling Cincinnati experts are here to help.

So, what causes dirty sock syndrome, and is it dangerous?

What is This?

Dirty sock syndrome occurs when mold and bacteria continually build up on your evaporator coil. The particles continually feed off the dust running through the HVAC systems. The smell associated often occurs during periods of transition; when an HVAC system has been left dormant for a period of time. Additionally, this occurs during seasons where heat is needed in the morning, and by noon-time, air conditioning is used. The heat mixed with dust and moisture in the darkness of your air conditioning unit creates the perfect recipe.

It is important to prevent mold and to provide good filtration for the air entering your system.  We usually like to think that the air filters we replace every few months are for us, when in fact, they are also for the health of your air conditioner!

How to Fix the Problem

If you notice an odd smell, here are a few steps to take before calling your HVAC contractor:

  1. Make sure the drainage pans are empty. If they are full and have standing water or blockages, be sure to clear them.
  2. Check your AC filter. If it is moist or wet, you need to replace it.
  3. Clear any drainage lines that may have blockage. You may have some moisture, but excessive moisture is a problem.
  4. If you’ve checked these preliminary culprits, and you still have a foul odor, call your heating and cooling Cincinnati technician.

Is This Dangerous?

Usually the answer is no. The variety of bacteria and mildews causing the smell are not harmful under normal circumstances (a person with a healthy immune system).  If left unattended, the bacteria and mildew can turn into mold. When mold is left to grow and fester, it can become a health hazard for those living in the home.

Don’t jump off the deep end just yet. The smell in your home doesn’t mean you have mold. Using a professional HVAC company is the right choice; they’ll open up your system and see what you’re dealing with.

Prevention Tips

Replacing your air filter regularly is key to preventing dust and allergens from collecting on the evaporating coils of the AC unit. Another, more intense, way to prevent mold and bacteria from growing on your cooling coils is to use a UV air purifier.  These air purifiers are used in medical facilities and they quickly kill bacteria and mold and their spores.

Your HVAC technician will clean your evaporator coils to remove any build-up; and that might do the trick, but it’s not a 100% guarantee that it will stop your problem. Depending on the age of your AC unit, it may need replacement evaporator coils. Additionally, it might be time to replace your entire unit.

River View Heating & Cooling is here to walk you through solving the problem. We’re industry experts who are trained in both preventative measure as well as complete overhauls to rid your house of this syndrome. Looking for heating and cooling in Cincinnati? Give us a call today to schedule a diagnostic appointment.

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