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Dirty Sock Syndrome. Is it Dangerous?

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If you’ve ever walked near your central air conditioning unit, you may have noticed an unusual and smelly odor. This could commonly be referred to as Dirty Sock Syndrome.

What is Dirty Sock Syndrome?

Most people who are having issues with their Air conditioners odor describe the smell to be similar to urine, cheese, and smelly feet. Most of these odors coming from your air conditioning vents indicate one thing, your air conditioner has dirty sock syndrome. Dirty sock syndrome (DSS) occurs when your air conditioning unit begins to emit a moldy smell that is usually compared to dirty or sweaty socks. Dirty Sock Syndrome plagues 0.5 to 2 percent of heat pumps in the southern states, with Texas being on the lower side of the percentage. DSS commonly occurs when the HVAC system is not getting much use throughout the day, or when the HVAC system is having to perform both heating and cooling actions frequently. 

What Causes Dirty Sock Syndrome?

Dirty sock syndrome is caused by the accumulation of mold and mildew on the air conditioners evaporator coil. Bacteria begin feeding on the dust and dirt that has accumulated and mold begins to grow. The combination of heat, moisture, stagnant water and darkness provides an ideal environment for mold to grow within the air conditioning unit. 

Is Dirty Sock Syndrome Dangerous for Your Health?

If your air conditioner has dirty sock syndrome, you may be concerned about whether or not it can be harmful to you or your family members. 

Thankfully, most of the mold and mildew that grows is not detrimental to your health. However, DSS can pose a risk to individuals that have compromised immune systems. Additionally, in more severe cases, when mold has grown into the HVAC system your health may be at risk. 

Symptoms of mold exposure may include:

  • Coughing 
  • Wheezing 
  • Itchy skin
  • Skin rashes 
  • Nasal drip
  • Watery and red eyes

Does Dirty Sock Syndrome Go Away?

Once you notice the dirty sock smell coming from your air conditioning unit you may notice that the smell can disappear quite quickly. Unfortunately, this does not mean that you are in the clear, as the source of the problem still remains. The evaporator coil is still dirty!

How to Get Rid of Dirty Sock Syndrome?

Typically, if your air conditioning is indeed suffering from DSS, then cleaning or replacing

your evaporator coil is probably required to fix the issue. Your HVAC technician may be able to completely clean the coil and prevent DSS from happening again. In other cases, the buildup of dirt may be too much to clean and a replacement is needed.

What Next?

The accumulation of mold and mildew on your air conditioner can make for very unpleasant smells around your home. Give the best air conditioning company in San Antonio, Houston, and all of the areas in between a call or contact us online to have a technician sent out to your home today.

Henry Rodriguez

Henry Rodriguez

Henry Rodriguez is the owner of Texas Air Repair with physical locations in San Antonio and Houston.

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Texas Air Repair offers air conditioning, heating, and indoor air quality services to residential and commercial customers in San Antonio, TX & the surrounding areas with their 25+ years of experience. 

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Texas Air Repair is family owned and operated with over 20 years of experience in the air conditioning industry. We offer a range of air conditioning services for San Antonio, Houston, Austin, and the surrounding areas. 

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