Does Your Heat Pump Have Dirty Sock Syndrome?
Does Your Heat Pump Have Dirty Sock Syndrome?

September 28, 2015


It sounds either totally ridiculous or like something reserved for your clothes dryer, but it is in fact a very real problem that you can encounter with your heat pump: dirty sock syndrome. Named for the unmistakable smell that accompanies dirty gym socks, dirty sock syndrome doesn’t involve actual socks but rather an issue that causes a potent dirty sock smell to emit from your heat pump system and into your home. 

What It Is

Heat pumps don’t generate heating or cooling; they transfer heat to do accomplish both. As such, they don’t get as hot as traditional heating systems. There are two sets of coils in your heat pump system, one on the condenser and the other in the indoor unit. The outdoor condenser coils are exposed to temperature fluctuations, including heat, as well as sunlight; these environmental influences help keep the coils dry. The indoor unit, however, does not have the benefit of these exposures. Instead, the indoor coils reside in cool darkness, the perfect environment for mold, mildew and other microbes to not only develop but flourish. And this is where dirty sock syndrome comes from: the flourishing of these microbes on your indoor heat pump coils.

How to Get Rid of Those "Dirty Socks"

If your heat pump has developed dirty sock syndrome, you won’t just deal with the unpleasantness of a stinky odor; your system will also suffer from decreased efficiency, dirty drain pans, poor performance and excess stress. You’ll need to call your Bronco Plumbing Heating and Air expert to perform a chemical cleaning on your coils and possibly your system’s plenum to get rid of the biological contaminants. However, to keep these growths from occurring, you’ll want to strongly consider installing UV germicidal lights over your indoor coils. UV lights emit UV-C rays that destroy both the DNA and life-sustaining proteins of biological micro-organisms, making it impossible for them to survive or reproduce.

There’s no reason for your home in Sacramento, CA to smell like a locker room due to dirty sock syndrome. Call the experts at Bronco Plumbing Heating and Air for help!