While air conditioning is great at making homes comfortable, it also plays a role in health statuses. Your AC can become a catalyst for illnesses if it isn't well maintained. The air from the system can disperse pathogens around your living space, causing you to fall ill.
In this article, we examine air conditioning-related illnesses, how to prevent them, and maintenance tips to get the best health outcomes from your AC. Read on to learn more.
Does Air Conditioning Cause Illnesses?
Ordinarily, no. However, using air conditioning can interact with other factors in your environment to cause illnesses. For instance, the breeze from your air conditioner can spread pollutants within your living space. Thus, if elements such as mold, bacteria, or dander are present in your indoor air, they can be circulated by your AC.
Consequently, you might have to contend with a sore throat, respiratory issues, or clogged nostrils. Another way your air conditioning can make you sick is the use of cold temperatures. Blasting extremely cold air from your AC can cause you to experience a variety of cold-related viruses. Your immune response to diseases can also decline as a result of this.
Furthermore, your maintenance attitude to the air conditioning system is another factor. When not cleaned and maintained regularly, the AC becomes a harbor for harmful organisms. Mold growth and bacteria around the AC are few among the results of poor maintenance. Consequently, the system poses more risk than actual comfort.
Different Sicknesses Related to Air Conditioning
In the preceding section, we explained how air conditioning illnesses might occur. But while it is important to know whether your air conditioning can make you sick, you also need to understand the various illnesses your AC might cause. We discuss these below.
Respiratory Difficulties and Common Cold
Air conditioning is not a direct cause of the common cold. However, running the system at extremely high levels can serve as a catalyst for cold-causing viruses. As the viruses proliferate faster in cold weather, the health risk increases.
Additionally, cold AC temperatures increase your vulnerability to illnesses by drying the moisture in your nose.
Your air conditioning system operates by carrying air through parts of your living space. This implies that it interacts with microorganisms present in the atmosphere, thereby conveying them as well. This becomes worse when mold, fungi, mildew, and other elements thrive in spaces within your home. As a result, you may experience breathing difficulties.
The unit itself can become a spot for microorganisms if you do not conduct proper maintenance. Internally, air distributed by the AC converts into moisture after a cooling process. The water produced here is removed through a drain line to a pan installed outdoors. However, when the line clogs, the system becomes an instant haven for mold.
Preventing this requires regular checks of the system.
Sick Building Syndrome
Sick building syndrome, while not an indicator of any particular disease, refers to illness symptoms experienced by people in a building. SBS can be triggered by factors such as smoke, dust, heat, mold, and other elements of poor indoor air.
The symptoms you experience do not last for long as you mostly feel better when you exit the building. Symptoms of SBS include fatigue, irritated skin, headache, and difficulty breathing. The condition is linked to airborne contaminants in a particular structure.
Intolerance to Heat
Long periods of exposure to air conditioning can reduce your tolerance to warm temperatures. You might find yourself seeking alternative cooling sources where there is no air conditioning. However, heat can reduce illnesses that thrive in air-conditioned environments.
Occasionally, you can ventilate your space with natural air in minimally hot weather. You can also form a habit of stepping out for fresh air outdoors.
Early Warning Signs of Air Conditioning Sickness
Here are a few signs that tell you of a likely air conditioning sickness. Read on.
You might suffer respiratory issues when you're around an AC system. If these symptoms get better when you are away from it, it might indicate a possible air conditioning sickness. Your air conditioning can make you sick when you don’t maintain the system adequately.
Dirty air filters, especially, can host bacteria, fungi, and other harmful organisms when they are not cleaned regularly. Thus, the system circulates contaminated air in your living space, causing you to fall ill.
To avoid this, create a consistent cleaning schedule for your filters. It would help if you also replaced them every month for better performance.
AC Allergies and Cold
If you experience cold or allergic reactions when close to an AC and your symptoms cease when it's turned off, you might have an air conditioning illness. Symptoms include sneezing, throat irritation, and coughing.
In response to this, you may want to conduct a check on your air conditioner. The issues could range from mold-filled ducts to clogged filters.
Air conditioning reduces indoor humidity. The result here is the evaporation of moisture from your eyes, causing irritation and dryness. It is advisable to avoid long periods under air conditioning if you already suffer from dry eyes syndrome.
Headaches and Dizzy Spells
These occur when you spend a long time under the effects of air conditioning. Long periods of dehumidification can result in dizziness or headaches.
For balance, your body utilizes energy to maintain body temperature in cold air. As a result, you might feel stiff and exhausted all the time.
While it is not a norm for people to lounge in hot weather, your inability to withstand heat at all might indicate intolerance. Overreliance on air conditioning is an immediate cause of this. Alternatively, instead of depending on your AC at all times, you can use natural air or handheld fans to cool yourself.
High Blood Pressure
Naturally, environmental temperatures influence our body heat and health. When in a cold setting, your arteries work to prevent loss of body heat. This can result in a rise in blood pressure.
According to research on AC and blood pressure, a decrease in temperature leads to a corresponding rise in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Therefore, it is important that hypertensive patients avoid extremely low AC temperatures.
Mold poses a significant threat to indoor air quality. As it is airborne, your AC can easily convey the infectious organisms to other areas of your home. It is important to conduct regular checks on ducts, vents, and other components to spot mold growth at an early stage. To remove it completely, engage the services of a qualified technician.
Is Air Conditioning Safe for You?
Having read the above, you may begin to think your AC is unsafe for your health. However, this is not the case. Air conditioning is a medically recommended solution for some health problems. It is a method used to filter unsuitable particles from the atmosphere.
Health problems arise when the AC is not properly maintained or cleaned. It becomes a hub for dangerous organisms when this happens.
How to Prevent Your AC from Making You Sick
We have explained how your air conditioning can make you sick in the sections above. Below, we highlight ways to maintain your unit and prevent it from causing illnesses.
Periodic Maintenance of Your AC Unit
To ensure your AC delivers the best health outcomes, you need to indulge in proper maintenance. This should occur at least once a year. Maintenance of this nature will prevent the collection of water in your evaporator coil.
The evaporator coil is that part of the AC that absorbs humidity from the air. When moisture gathers on the coil, mold growth will quickly begin.
Your body reacts negatively to sustained periods of cold. To avoid the side effects, you may want to set your thermostat to a bearable minimum. You can also indulge in using natural air as a substitute for AC.
Filters are important parts of the AC you should not neglect. They are a convenient settling area for dust and other particles. These can be blown back into your living space. To ensure they work properly at all times, clean your filters regularly.
You can make this a part of your normal cleaning routine to avoid dirt. It is also important to replace filters every 30 days.
What to Do When There Is Mold in Your AC
Now you know that the presence of mold in your AC is one of the ways your air conditioning can make you sick. Nonetheless, here are a few steps to take when you detect mold in your AC.
Replace the Unit
Most times, when mold is substantial, it is advisable to replace the unit than to remove the mold. This is because replacement may cost less. When attempting to remove mold or an infested unit, use masks and gloves for protection.
Also, swapping your AC unit for a new one may be more applicable when the unit is smaller and more affordable.
Engage a Technician
In removing mold from the unit, it is important to engage experts to handle it. Except you are one yourself, using experts guarantees better handling of the system's components. Mold disposal also requires care to prevent transmission to other parts of the house.
Clean it Yourself
You always have the option to self-clean. However, this should be preceded by careful assessment. With protective gear on, check how far the mold has spread, if you can see all parts of the unit, and if you can access the affected parts. If you are uncertain about all three, it is best to call an expert.
Reach Out to Us!
This article has provided detailed insights on how your air conditioning can make you sick and ways to prevent it. For emphasis, adequate maintenance is an easy way to ensure that your AC does not compromise your health.
To ask any questions or schedule a maintenance check for your unit, contact Erica's Plumbing and Restoration. We are a 24/7 service based in Boca Raton, Florida.