The Nose Knows
The perception of odor varies from person to person. But, our sense of smell plays a significant role in detecting unhealthy conditions that should be addressed. If the air in your home smells like dirty gym socks, you might be dealing with a common, but often misunderstood issue, called Dirty Sock Syndrome (DSS).
The Cause of Dirty Sock Syndrome: Bacteria and Mold
DSS isn’t a result of actual dirty socks but rather a bacterial and mold growth issue within your HVAC system. This occurs when certain conditions, like the transition between heating and cooling modes in spring and fall, lead to excess moisture on the system’s coils, creating a breeding ground for bacteria and mold.
Mold and Health
Mold can produce allergens and irritants that may lead to health issues, particularly for those with allergies or asthma. Understanding the difference between mold and mildew is crucial for effective management.
Who’s at Risk?
While DSS is typically an annoyance, it can pose risks, especially to:
- Individuals with compromised immune systems
- Those with respiratory conditions like asthma
- Young children and the elderly
- People with allergies
Is Your Home at Risk?
Almost any home can experience DSS under the right conditions, but it’s more likely in systems with electric furnaces or standalone air conditioners, as gas furnaces tend to minimize the issue due to higher heat output.
How to Address DSS?
The good news is that DSS can usually be resolved relatively easily. Professionals should clean your air conditioner’s coils, as this is where the odor originates. In severe cases, the evaporator coils may need replacement.
Prevention is Key
To prevent DSS, consider these proactive measures:
- Regular HVAC Servicing: Schedule regular maintenance to keep your system in top shape.
- Regular Filter Replacement: Quality filters can trap bacteria and mold; replace them more often if you have pets.
- Increase Filtration Efficiency: The addition of advanced air cleaning technologies, like Phenomenal AireTMcan maximize the effectiveness of mechanical air filters reducing airborne contaminants accumulating on the AC coil like mold, bacteria, dust, and pollen.
- Professional Duct Cleaning: Have your ducts cleaned by experts.