One of the best parts of anyone’s home — especially in Florida — is the air conditioner. It’s one of those things most people take for granted… until something goes awry. It could be that it’s not cooling enough on the hottest of days, or maybe it’s making unusual sounds — and maybe, it’s suddenly making your entire house smell like dirty socks. Why is this happening, and what can you do to fix it?
What is Dirty Sock Syndrome?
An air conditioner works by absorbing the warm air and humidity inside your home, taking away the moisture, cooling it, and sending it back indoors through the return vents. This entire process is efficient — unless moisture buildup inside causes mold growth. This is the dirty socks odor you can smell throughout your home. Do not ignore it or put it on the back burner, since doing so could cause the mold to spread to the rest of your home — causing breathing problems for you and your loved ones and structural damage to your property.
How to Fix Dirty Sock Syndrome in 4 Steps
There are several things you can do to get rid of the dirty socks smell from your air conditioner. These include:
1. Change the air filters
How often you should change your air filter depends on several factors — how many people live in your home, whether you have any pets, and whether there are any allergy sufferers or smokers in your household. The more of these conditions apply to you, the more often you should change them. Under no circumstances should it be longer than 90 days. This is because dirt and debris block airflow — causing energy inefficiency, higher energy bills, and promoting mold growth.
2. Clean the evaporator coils
When your AC removes moisture from the air, water droplets form on the evaporator coils. When an air filter is left unchanged for too long, the water often freezes — causing your AC to not cool as well or to start growing mold and mildew. If you lagged on changing the filters, now you’ll have to clean the coils. To do so, shut off power to the AC, remove the front panel of the indoor unit, and spray compressed air across the metal coils. Point it towards the exterior of the AC to avoid blowing dust inside the unit.
3. Clean the drip pan
The moisture that’s removed from the indoor air drips from the coils to what’s called a drip pan. Once the pan is full, the water is siphoned out of your home through the condensate line. If you already changed the filters and cleaned the coils, check to see if there’s any mold growth on the drip pan. Remember to always shut off power to the AC before working on it. Your drip pan will be located directly under the inside unit. Empty it then clean it with warm water and soap or wipe it with distilled white vinegar.
4. Clean the condensate line
Since the drain line is a dark, enclosed space, it’s a prime location for mold growth. Not only can this cause your home to smell like dirty socks, but it can also create blockages and water backing up into your AC system. To clean it, shut off the power to the air conditioner. Locate the drain line by looking for a PVC pipe near the outside unit. Remove the cap and remove any visible obstructions. Then, slowly pour one cup of distilled white vinegar, peroxide, or bleach, into the opening. Let it sit for half an hour.
For more information, check out our blog: How to Clean Your AC Drain Line
Contact Complete Air Mechanical for AC Service
At Complete Air Mechanical, we have experienced HVAC professionals who can inspect your AC and/or install a unit that’s right for your home or business. We provide service in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Volusia counties, and we offer financing options.