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Residential Real Estate
Dec 15, 2014

How To Avoid “Dirty Sock” Syndrome At Home

Sponsored Content provided by Jimmy Williams - Owner, O’Brien Service Company

Dirty sock syndrome is not something that you want in your home; even the name is unpleasant.  Unfortunately, it does occur, and the root cause has yet to be pinpointed.  

Dirty sock syndrome occurs when your heat pump goes into defrost mode, which stirs up microorganisms and leads to a foul smell. There are solutions to this problem, but depending on the circumstances, certain ones will work better than others.  

Most people’s first question when they’re told their home has dirty sock syndrome is, “Why me?” There’s no clear answer, but it is thought that there is a possible link to cleaning materials, pets, cooking and the amount of moisture in the home. The odor is very unpredictable, and in many cases it will be there one year and gone the next. We do know that it occurs with heat pumps only, and is a problem mostly restricted to the Southeastern region of the U.S.

Next people wonder the exact cause of the odor. During the cooling season, microorganisms grow in the moisture of the surface cracks and crevices of the tubes and fin stock of the indoor coil. They feed on minute particles produced by common household items. Once the heat pump is put into heating mode, the microorganisms become dormant in the warm, dry atmosphere. Then when the heat pump goes into defrost mode, the indoor coil cools down and becomes moist, which reactivates the microorganisms. It is at this point that they release the odor; once the heat pump returns to the heating mode they become dormant again.

It is important to know that while the smell is unappealing, it has yet to be proven that it causes health issues. For your nose’s sake, though, you’ll probably want it taken care of by a professional. Our service technicians will clean the coil, and use a preventative solution. Depending on the situation, however, that might not stop the problem. In the more extreme cases, the coil might need to be replaced, so check with O’Brien to see if your parts are under warranty.

Dirty sock syndrome is not a pleasant issue to deal with, but it does occur in our area due to the moisture in our air. It doesn’t matter the make or model of a heat pump. If this is something you think you may be experiencing with your heat pump, give O’Brien Service Company.

Jimmy Williams has owned and operated O'Brien Service Company for more than 30 years. Our highly trained and versatile technicians can expertly handle complex repairs, installations, and advise you on the benefits of regular maintenance. O'Brien will work on both residential and commercial systems, and is a certified Trane Specialist. Call today to have your system serviced, or to have a free at home estimate. You can contact us by calling (910) 799-6611, or visit our website at www.obrienservice.com.                 

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