Dirty Sock Syndrome Part 1

Upon entering your home, the first thing you noticed is the stinky odor. It is not the garbage, neither the piled-up laundry of your little munchkins. What could be the culprit then?

Your air conditioning.

Your house might be suffering from dirty sock syndrome.

The average American spends almost 93 percent of their life indoors, which makes indoor air quality an immediate issue. Dirty sock syndrome attacks most homes, and you need to pay strict attention to it.

In this two-part article series, we will discuss what dirty sock syndrome actually is, what causes it, and how to solve it efficiently.

You can jump to part two here.

What Is Dirty Sock Syndrome?

Dirty sock syndrome is a stale, foul-smelling odor that is often produced from an air conditioner with a dirty coil. This coil is the heat pump coil in the blower or air handler of your AC. Apart from a very dirty coil, there are also little microbial organisms present that feed on the dust, dirt, and other things that’s accumulated on it. This is why your home is dealing with a terrible smell.
The smell travels as your AC pushes air around the home, making all rooms have a disgusting odor. Some homeowners mistake dirty sock syndrome as a mold problem because of its mold-like smell. This can cause for a serious concern since mold leads to headaches and other health issues.

What Causes Dirty Sock Syndrome?

Bacteria and fungus growing on the evaporator coil.
Constant use of your air conditioning can cause moisture formation on the evaporator coils. Dust will then be collected inside the system and fasten itself to the coils.
Once attached, the dust and moisture can grow bacteria. The cold and hot temperatures used by the air conditioning makes it an excellent place for the bacteria to flourish.
The bacteria and fungus growth will lead your AC system to slow rot from within. It is because of the decomposition that you smell a stinky odor when the unit is on.

Is Dirty Sock Syndrome Dangerous?

No doubt, dirty sock syndrome smells horrible and is a real annoyance. But fortunately, it is not usually considered devastating or life-threatening since the mildew and bacteria are not extremely hazardous to the health but could irritate asthma or other respiratory conditions.
Though at some point, dirty sock syndrome can pose health risks if mold occurs in the air conditioning unit and starts to develop. It can cause sneezing and coughing and those with severe allergies, asthma, or have respiratory problems will likely the suffer most.
You may also experience eye irritation and difficulty breathing if mold grows within your system. The strong smell from the AC unit can make you feel sick too. Long exposure to mold also carries long-term health risks as it emits microbial volatile organic compounds – gasses which generate the odor that associated with mold.

If you have Dirty Sock Syndrome or mold has grown inside your AC, you need have a professional  conduct an immediate, thorough inspection and cleaning of the HVAC system.

See Dirty Sock Syndrome Part 2 for solutions and tips for prevention.



Why Does My Air Conditioner Leak Or Drip Water?

Most of the time, people rarely give their air conditioners much thought until there is a problem and it needs troubleshooting. One common problem with air conditioning unit is they end up leaking water inside. If your air conditioner has this problem, then here is some information you should know about the cause, and how you can fix it.

Humidity in the Air

Humidity is the amount of water in the atmosphere. The function of an air conditioner is to remove the moisture in the air. This then reduces the humidity levels in your home and can be the cause of the water you see “leaking” from your unit.

Generally, your air conditioner producing water is a good sign – you’ll likely see the water draining out of the back of the AC unit outdoors. However, if water is not draining here, then there might be a problem – like it is draining where it shouldn’t or is clogged in your unit.

Causes Of Leaking Air Conditioners

Air conditioners usually produce water as part of their operating process. It comes out of a specific drain line. However, if the water is coming from somewhere else, then your air conditioner is leaking and will need fixing. Some of the causes of a leaky air conditioner include:

Clogged Drain Lines

Air conditioners produce a lot of water, and they usually discharge it down the drain line. If the line is clogged, the water will end up backed-up inside. A clogged drain line can cause water to leak out of other areas. If your air conditioner is leaking water indoors, the first thing you want to do is unplug it (water and electricity don’t mix). Next, you’ll want to inspect the drain lines and clear out any debris that may be clogging it. If you are the DIY-type, then you can use a shopvac to clean out the drain line. If not, troubleshoot with another possibility below or contact an AC repair company, like EasyBreezy A/C to help you get your air conditioner back to normal.

If you have a really old unit that is still going, it may drain into a pan. Check to ensure the pan has not rusted or damaged as these effects can cause leaking.

Icy Coils

If the water is not draining properly, it can back up over the cooling coils. As a result, the water freezes over the coils. To check for this use, turn off your unit and open the cage to inspect the coils. This can be complicated for homeowners unfamiliar with their AC unit – if so, give us a call to solve your leaking air conditioning issue.

Dirty Air Filter

Now… we put this down here at the bottom, because we know that you regularly change your filters, right?  We have found that dirty filters are the number one cause of water leaks in your air handler. If it has been several months since you changed your air filter, it COULD be the cause of the AC leaking.  When the air conditioning’s air filter is dirty, it inhibits proper air flow over the evaporator coils. As a result, the coil gets too cold and freezes – and when it thaws, it leaks.

Call An Air Conditioning Pro

If you cannot find the source of your leak or your troubleshooting methods have not resolved the AC leaking issue, contact EasyBreezy A/C to fully inspect your unit for the source of your problem. Our skilled and professional AC technicians will help your air conditioner get back to normal.



Why Would An Air-Conditioner Stop Working?

We have come in an age of a constantly moving forward economy. The living conditions that were only for the privileged rich in the 1960s are now considered as the basic necessities for everyone. One such necessity is air conditioning. Today, almost everyone in Florida has an air conditioner system in their homes in order to cope with the blazing hot summers. Failure of an air conditioner can cause a lot of stress and panic for repairs. An air conditioner can stop due to many reasons, as simple as of a fuse tripping off. Other common causes for an air conditioner to stop working include:

  1. Mechanical issues
  2. Air Filters Getting Clogged
  3. Your Refrigerant Is Low
  4. The Unit Has An Old Thermostat

Mechanical issues

An air conditioner has 5 components:

  • Fan
  • Compressor
  • Evaporator Coil
  • Condenser Coil
  • Expansion Valve

There are two units of the AC: One inside the home where the fan blows air through the cooling evaporator coil and cools the house. The compressor, condenser coil, and another fan on the outside vent the warm air. The expansion valve controls the regulation of the refrigerant that moves between the evaporator coil and the condenser coil.

Any issues related to any of this machinery can keep your air conditioner from functioning normally. It is advisable to have a yearly checkup to prevent any of these from becoming faulty and replacing a single component is as costly as purchasing a new air conditioner.

Air Filters Getting Clogged

One of the most common reasons because an air conditioner stops working is because of failure to replace the worn-out air filters on time. A clogged filter obstructs the flow of the cold air and decreases the cooling of your house. So, if you are experiencing even a little less cooling, have your air filters checked before it creates any damage to your air conditioner. It can cause your unit to leak water and also result in a clogged drain line. Here is an article about why your air filters may be getting dirtier faster.

Your Refrigerant Is Low

Cooling can’t happen if the refrigerant is low. The amount of refrigerant in your unit must exactly match with the amount specified by the manufacturer. There are two possibilities why your refrigerant is low – the refrigerant was not added properly when the unit was first installed or more commonly, your unit has developed a leak. Leaks are t reason for low refrigerant about 90 percent of the time. That is why you must have regular checkups of your air conditioners by authorized technicians to check for potential leaks and stop them before they occur.

The Unit Has An Old Thermostat

It is common to upgrade an AC unit and not a thermostat – or vice versa. Often times the thermostat is not properly calibrated with the air conditioner. As your thermostat ages, is ability to keep up with your cooling needs can diminish as parts and wires wear out. This is one reason why we, at EasyBreezy A/C, provide a new thermostat with every install.



Why Does My AC Smell?

Common Air Conditioning Odors And Their Causes

Air conditioning falls under the category of basic necessities (like food, shelter, and water do) given how important it is in a home in the present era. However, unlike most other necessities, air conditioners require maintenance and if not kept up with. Luckily, air conditioning systems typically give off warning signs when something is not right – poor air flow, warm air instead of cold, buzzing or other odd noises, and smells.

The following are some of the common smells that you might experience when something is wrong with your air conditioner, along with the likely culprit.

Smell musty or smell like mildew

This is a result of excessive humidity in your AC system along with the presence of mold or mildew in the ducts, clogged drain lines, or stagnant water in the drip pan. To solve the problem of this particular smell, you usually do not need help from expert. Check where the drip pan or wherever the AC releases the moisture pulled from the air for standing water or poor drainage. Also check the drain pipe – if it is dry, then there is likely a clog somewhere. Be sure to change all of the intake filters and continue to do so regularly. If your home is prone to humidity, install a humidifier in one of the main rooms to help pull moisture from the air and lighten the burden placed on your air conditioning system. If the smell persists, then your duct work may need a thorough cleaning. If you have never done this before, it is recommended to give us a call to ensure that no damage befalls your duct work or system.

Smell like dirty socks

Dirty Sock Syndrome is an actual “illness” that can affect your air conditioning system. The dirty socks smell (or gym bag, work boot, 3 day pile of wet laundry smell) is usually a product of mildew somewhere in your system. It could be in the duct work or around the evaporator coil.  Like the above smell, it is typically the cause of high humidity in the home or clogged drain pipes only stage of mildew is long past changing filters to resolve the issue. This will require an in-depth cleaning of your system.

Cigarettes

You guessed it – this smell is caused by of the presence of tobacco smoke residue in your AC system. Even if the smoker uses a designated room or part of the house for their smoking habit, the smoke can and will inhibit the air conditioning system and be filtered to the rest of the home. Change the filters more often and encourage the smoker to some only outdoors. At a minimum, better ventilate the areas where smoking is occurring by opening a window and using a fan to help circulate the air.

Acetone

The scent of acetone, or nail polish remover, is an indication that you have a refrigerant leak in your system. A refrigerant leak can not only be disastrous for the efficiency of the system, but also your health. It poses serious health hazards so if you smell this odor in your air conditioning system then turn off the system immediately and get help from an expert.

Rotten Eggs

This will only be a concern for residents or commercial offices who have gas-drive AC units. The smell of rotten eggs is a common description used when there is a gas leak. If you smell this in your house and you’re sure that it is coming from the air conditioning system, then immediately call a professional for help. Also, open the windows and turn off the appliances to avoid any spark that can result in an explosion, then wait outside for assistance to arrive.

Burning Smell

In Florida, this smell is typically not a concern. You may experience a burning smell after turning on your systems heater after it is dormant for the majority of the year. When you don’t use your heater for a long period of time dust can settle on the heating coils. When you do start using it the dust gets burned off, resulting in a burning smell. The smell will eventually dissipate and fade away.
However, if you have been running your heater for the last 24 hours and the smell has already dissipated, or you never experienced it and you now are, then the smell could be an indication of overuse. When parts are dormant and do not receive regular maintenance, they can wear out from lack of use (just like a tool in your garage that never gets used may rust). It can also be a sign of a bad or malfunctioning compressor. If you smell burning several hours after the heater is in use, then turn off your unit and contact us to evaluate your system.

Smell like Rotting Carcass

Sounds gross and the smell itself can be really disturbing and you can’t help but notice it. As the name shows, this smell is due to a bird, mouse, squirrel, or other creature dying after getting caught somewhere in your system. So, if there is a rancid, rotting smell and no other indication to its cause, you should turn off your air conditioner and contact an AC repairman. A decomposing body of a small mammal can be very harmful to your health and you don’t want your AC system to circulate it through your home.

In all cases, you can avoid, reduce, and prevent smells with routine maintenance and a whole home indoor air quality product.



The 5 Most Common Air Conditioning Problems And How To Prevent Them

During the long, hot summer days we rely heavily on our air conditioners to remain running and providing its maximum performance. However, there are things that can cause our air conditioner to lose efficiency or even break down completely. We have put together a list of the most common air conditioning problems and what you can do to fix them yourself.

Problem: The Air Filter Is Dirty

Keeping your air filter clean and clear is imperative to helping maintain the efficiency of your air conditioner. If your air filter is dirty or clogged, the airflow through the unit will be restricted and your air conditioner’s overall ability to effectively cool the air will be reduced. You should check your manufacturer’s suggestions on how and when to change your air filter, and then do so accordingly. Some air filters will require monthly maintenance, while others may only need to be changed every three months, and some are even reusable and will simply need to be cleaned. You can check to see if your air filter is dirty by checking if any light is able to pass through it. If light is not able to pass through your filter, then air probably isn’t able to pass through properly either. This is a simple fix, if you haven’t changed your air filter recently be sure to do it now and then continue to maintain the air filter as suggested by the manufacturer.

Problem: The Thermostat

The thermostat plays a very important role in the efficiency of your air conditioning system as it controls the temperature setting in your home. When it comes to your thermostat, you want to make sure that it is on, the inside is clean, it is level, it is not being affected by sunlight, and that it is on the correct setting. If you have a programmable thermostat, it is important to check that it is programmed correctly to provide a comfortable temperature when you are home and a slightly higher temperature when you’re not home and not using it. It is important to make sure that your thermostat is not being affected by sunlight, or anything else that may produce off a lot of heat such as a lamp, as this will cause your thermostat to improperly read the temperature in your home and will make your air conditioner run more than necessary and less efficiently.

Problem: The Refrigerant Leaks

Refrigerant is the coolant your air conditioner uses to cool the air. When refrigerant is leaking, your air conditioning system will not work correctly, and the temperature will fluctuate. A refrigerant leak is not only bad for your air conditioner, it can also be harmful to the environment. Refrigerant leaks often occur because the system was not properly charged at installation. If you have a refrigerant leak, simply adding more refrigerant will not fix the problem. This problem is going to require a licensed and trained professional to fix the leak, test the repair, and then charge the system properly.

Problem: No Air Is Coming Out Of The Registers

If you turn your air conditioner on and no air comes out, it is probably because the fan on the outside of the unit is not running properly. The outside fan not running is actually usually a simple problem to fix as it usually just means that the breaker has been tripped and needs to be reset.

Problem: You Neglected Annual Checkups

Just like going to a doctor for an annual checkup can help reduce the risk of us developing any chronic or serious illnesses, having an annual checkup done on your air conditioning system by a licensed and trained professional can help keep your system running at its maximum efficiency year after year. A professional technician is able to recognize any potential signs of issues and correct them quickly, which will keep repair costs low if any repairs are necessary.

If you are having an issue with your air conditioner that you are not able to fix on your own, or if you would like to have a professional licensed and trained technician come out and inspect your system for an annual checkup, call EasyBreezy A/C today! We are happy to help you keep your air conditioner working at its maximum capacity all year long!



5 Signs You Need a New Air Conditioner

Outdoor Air Conditioning Unit Attached To The Side Of A Home

 

There are times when a homeowner should consider completely replacing their HVAC system instead of just repairing it. While it can be expensive to upgrade your air conditioner, it can actually help to save on costly energy and maintenance bills down the road.

But before you decide to replace, here are some ways to assure that your unit is incapable of repair, or just simply too old to function in a costly manner.

  • Your AC Unit is Older Than Your First Born. Any heat pump/air conditioning units should be considered to be upgraded if they are older than ten years old. If your furnace or boiler is older than 15 years, you may also think of replacing these as well. If you notice that your air conditioner is not keeping your house cool enough, even when the thermostat is set correctly, then this may be a sign that its age has caught up with its ability to cool your home.

 

  • Your Air Conditioner Is Always Working. If your unit is constantly running even when it is set on “Auto”, this may mean that your system is overloaded and this could be a good indication of that it needs to be replaced. This is especially true if it doesn’t seem to cool the house properly even after running all day. By replacing the unit, you could actually save on high monthly energy bills caused by an overworked system.

 

  • High Monthly Energy Bills. Did you know HVAC systems account for 40% of your energy bill? If your unit is costing you a pretty penny every month in utility bills, you may want to start thinking about replacing your air conditioner. There are several new energy efficient options, that are also surprisingly affordable.

 

  • Your Air Conditioner Is Always Breaking Down. The summer is nearly half over and if you have had to call an HVAC technician to your home 2 to 3 times already because your AC keeps breaking down, then a new unit may be your better option.

 

  • It Breaks the 5,000 Rule. A general rule of thumb in the HVAC industry is if your repair costs are over $5,000 then you should be looking at new units instead. If the repairs will cost you less than $5,000, then go ahead and get the fix done. Also be sure to add a maintenance plan to routinely check your air conditioner for problems before they happen.

 



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