Everybody wants their home to smell pleasant, not just for guests but for their own enjoyment. And there are few things less pleasant than a moldy odor spreading around your house because it’s coming out of the vents along with the heated or cooled air.
If this happens in your home, you’re not alone: this situation is a common one called “dirty sock syndrome.” You can probably tell why it got that name when you smell those odors. We’ll take a look at what causes this and what can be done about it.
Mold and Your AC/Heat Pump
The moldy odor you’re smelling most likely is mold or a combination of mold and mildew. The damp climate in Florida makes it easy for both to develop inside the ducts of an HVAC system. However, the most likely place for it to start is on the refrigerant coil for your AC or heat pump.
During the operation of any refrigerant-based comfort system, the refrigerant is evaporated and condensed in two sets of coils. When the heat is absorbed along the indoor coil (such as when the AC is running or a heat pump is in cooling mode), water condenses out of the air as well. This water collects along the refrigerant coil, then drips down from the coil and into a condensate drain. It’s pumped out from the drain and the house.
However, excess moisture in the air or a broken condensate drain can lead to too much water along the coil and higher moisture levels inside the HVAC system. The surface of the coil remains damp, and this is a perfect place for mold and mildew to grow.
If either develops along the refrigerant coil, it means a moldy odor will start to spread around through the ducts. All the air moving through the HVAC system, whether heated or cooled, passes through this coil, and therefore picks up the bad smell of the mold and mildew, creating dirty sock syndrome.
This is not only foul-smelling, it can potentially create health hazards. Certain molds can release toxic spores into the air that lead to health problems in a household. The mold also will cause the energy efficiency of the system to drop.
Controlling Dirty Sock Syndrome
What can be done when you’ve got a moldy AC or heat pump creating odors around the house—and possibly worse?
The first thing to do is call for HVAC professionals familiar with air conditioners, heat pumps, and ductwork. The technicians must first clean off the coil using special chemical cleaners. Once this is done, they can equip a UV air purifier in the HVAC system. These consist of UV lights shining on the coil that kill mold and mildew and prevent them from returning.
You can fix dirty sock syndrome with professional heating and air conditioning service in Tampa, FL. Our technicians handle all types of HVAC service, and we can install UV air purifiers to help prevent mold and mildew in the future.