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AC Issues: Why Does My Home Smell Like A Dirty Sock?

Dirty Sock Syndrome
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Walking into a home that smells like a locker room at half time is no joke. If you’re experiencing this, you and your air conditioner could be suffering from dirty sock syndrome.

What Is Dirty Sock Syndrome?

The dirty sock odor is caused by the growth of mold and mildew on the evaporator coil in your air conditioner. Dust gets caught in the moisture that collects in your coil due to continued use, which in turn leads to the growth of mold and mildew. The warmth, damp, and darkness create perfect conditions for mold and mildew to thrive. This creates a breeding ground for bacteria. Where germs and bacteria thrive, they give off nasty odors.

Why Is Mold Such A Problem?

Mold doesn’t need much to survive, grows fast and produces many toxins. In an AC environment, all those toxins and bacteria that are produced by the mold get blown throughout your home. The World Health Organization (WHO) state that 60% of indoor air quality problems and allergies may be mold-related. Other indoor air quality diagnosticians and practitioners say that figure is closer to 80%.

Mold affects the functioning of AC systems by causing dirty coils, increase in pressure drop, dirty or blocked drain pans, increased energy use, and lowered heat exchange efficiency.

Is Dirty Sock Syndrome Dangerous?

Living in a stinky home is unpleasant but not dangerous to healthy people. For anyone with compromised health though, mold, mildew and bacteria can trigger serious health issues.

People at risk are:

  • Asthma sufferers
  • Anyone with severe allergies
  • People with a compromised immune system – (i.e. the elderly, those undergoing chemotherapy or those infected with HIV)

How Do You Know It’s Dirty Sock Syndrome?

Just because your air conditioner is making your home smell funky, doesn’t mean that you have full-on dirty sock syndrome. Before assuming, here are some things to check that will eliminate other causes of the bad odor.

  • Drainage Pans & Lines

    If your drainage pans are full, empty them. You can buy dissolvable tablets at a hardware store that should help keep your drainage lines free from blockages.

  • Air Conditioning Filter

    Replace your air conditioning filter to make sure the filtration system of your air conditioner is functioning well. Avoid buying cheap filters that are flimsy enough to stick your finger through. It is worth investing in good quality filters that will do the job well when it comes keeping your AC functioning at its best.

If you’ve checked these three things but you are still suffering from a stinky home, you are most likely suffering from dirty sock syndrome.

My Home Has Dirty Sock Syndrome – Help!

There are options available to fix this problem.

  • Clean

    Our air conditioning technicians are available to help you remove the mold inside your AC system more effectively than the home remedy of bleach, vinegar and a scrubbing brush can.

  • Replace

    One of our home comfort specialists can advise you when it is time to replace your evaporator coil, or in some cases, your AC unit may need replaced.

  • Ultra Violet Light Systems

    Ultra violet light has been used by medical and food industries to sanitize and sterilize. This same technology is available to be installed in your home to improve the indoor air quality.

No More Locker-Room Living

The old saying goes where there’s smoke, there’s a fire. When it comes to your home – where there’s a stink, there’s an AC unit asking for attention. Call one of our professionals today to sort out your AC issues, toss the socks and get your home smelling wonderful again.


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