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Can Air Conditioning Make You Sick?

Your air conditioner is an essential part of your home. When you’re in the hot and humid months of the year, you rely on it to keep you cool and comfortable. However, as a homeowner, you always want to be sure the items your household relies on aren’t actually causing harm. Do you need to be concerned about your HVAC system? Read on below to find out more about if air conditioning can make you sick.

Air Conditioning Sickness

You may already know of the term “air conditioning sickness.” This refers to feeling cold, stuffy, weak, and foggy. These symptoms are thought to be a result of staying indoors with your AC running for too long. But is your air conditioner actually what’s making you feel that way?

The air conditioning system itself, and the cold air it produces, should not be making you sick. Especially if everything is working correctly. On the contrary, air conditioners can actually be beneficial for your health. Especially if you have any respiratory issues, asthma, or allergies. It helps to filter out allergens and various pollutants. Being able to rely on AC in the highest temperatures can also prevent heatstroke.

Mold, Bacteria, and More

However, air conditioning can make you sick if other factors come into play. For instance, if you don’t do enough to maintain your HVAC system. If you’re not taking care of it, your air conditioning can end up becoming a breeding ground for mold, bacteria, fungi, mildew, and more.

Without maintaining your HVAC system regularly, the condensation that occurs when air is pulled over the coils can really build up. And all of that moisture can lead to serious mold growth.

Mold is certainly one of the most significant issues to be aware of. Instead of your AC being beneficial for respiratory health, mold growing inside your air conditioning can cause respiratory infections. If you or anyone else in your home is experiencing a sore throat, congestion, wheezing, or coughing, it could be due to mold.

So how can you spot mold? One sign is the sight of black spots in the air ducts. As concerning as that is, it could also be a sign that there’s a bigger mold problem in the system itself.

Your air conditioning can also become a problem if your home already has serious issues with mold and bacteria growth, or other allergens and pollutants. If that is the case, your air conditioning may just cause those to circulate.

If you find or experience any signs of mold or bacteria in your air conditioning system, it’s time to call in an HVAC professional. A trained technician can clean your HVAC system and work with you to find a solution to prevent further issues.

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Temperature Matters

Also, keep in mind that you don’t want to overuse your air conditioner. Running your AC during colder outdoor temperatures, for instance, is usually not recommended. And in general, it does a body good to get some fresh air.

Your air conditioning could also make you sick if you set it to a temperature that’s too low. Some are so bothered by the heat and humidity outdoors that they go overboard, making the indoor conditions feel like winter. Are the symptoms you attribute to air conditioning sickness reminiscent of those you have in the colder months? Then setting your AC too low could be the culprit. There are certain viruses that, unfortunately, thrive in extremely cold and low-humidity environments. These are the same viruses that are common in the winter months.

When you blast your AC too much and too cold, it can also be dehydrating, especially for your nasal passages. If you’re feeling dehydrated, you can counteract it somewhat by drinking more water. But you should also consider turning down the AC and installing a home humidification system.

Keeping your home too cold can also restrict blood flow. This includes the white blood cells that are essential to protecting your body against certain viruses. In some cases, a too cold, too dry environment can lead to headaches, fatigue, and sore muscles and joints. Does anyone in your home have hypertension? If so, try not to sit too close to an air conditioner. The direct cold air can only exacerbate that condition.

Remember, air conditioning is supposed to help your home stay comfortable, not make it too cold. So avoid an extreme difference between outside and inside temperatures. You want to feel cool when you walk into your home, not feel a shock at the massive temperature drop.

Preventing Illness

If you’re concerned the quality of indoor air could make you sick, consider installing an air purifier. There are different options for these, including ones that are installed in the ducts. This could help avoid any growth of bacteria and mold. Keeping your home clean is also important for indoor air quality. Poor air quality can be bad for allergies and asthma, cause difficulty sleeping, and increase fatigue.

One of the easiest, and most important, steps you can take is to regularly clean and change the AC filters. Dirty filters can lead to problems with bacteria and mold. These should usually be changed every three to six months. If you have pets, look for filters that catch pet hair and dander. Changing filters doesn’t just help avoid sickness. It also keeps your system at peak efficiency. This means that it will help you avoid higher energy bills. And it will also be better for the environment.

To avoid your air conditioning making you sick, make sure to schedule regular service. It’s usually recommended to have a maintenance check at least once a year. For this service, or if you have any other issues and concerns about your AC, turn to us here at Entek. With over 75 years in business, we are the longest-serving Carrier provider in the Pacific Northwest. We have the experience and expertise to ensure your air conditioning doesn’t make you or your family sick. You can find more information on our website.


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