Do Air Conditioners Help Clean Up Indoor Air Pollution?

Air conditioner cleaning when man checks the filter
Oct 2018 26

Many of us run air conditioners in the summertime to help keep cool in the hot weather. That AC certainly helps to cool things down, but there can be misconceptions about the air coming through your unit. Does that window air conditioner help to clean up indoor air pollution?

The side effects of using an air conditioner

You might be surprised to learn that an air conditioner isn’t doing much to clean the air that you’re breathing indoors. Your unit is pulling air in from the outside, cooling it, and moving it into your home. While your air conditioner likely has a filter, particles in the air are often very tiny, and small enough to pass through a conventional AC filter. In fact, an air conditioner is often circulating common allergens from outdoors like dust and pollen.

As air conditioners accumulate moisture, it is also common to see mold develop in the unit - mold that will be circulated into your home. For this reason, It is important to clean your air conditioner, or have it serviced, regularly to avoid the growth of mold. A dirty air conditioner can contribute to a number of health problems like asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder), bronchitis, and other breathing problems.

How to avoid the harmful effects of an air conditioner

To help clean the air in your home, there are air conditioners with HEPA filters or air purifiers, but these don’t always do enough to keep your air clean, and can affect your AC’s ability to cool your home efficiently. In addition to regular professional service and cleaning, the best way to limit the potentially harmful effects of an air conditioner is to use it sparingly. You can minimize your exposure to AC by keeping the unit on a low setting or using it only for comfort while you sleep. Not only is this better for the environment, but it also is likely better for you.

Tips for managing your health in air conditioning.

  • The best way to purify the air in your home is with a standalone HEPA filter or air purifier.
  • You air conditioner likely has a removable or replaceable filter. Make sure it is cleaned or changed regularly so it can filter some of the impurities being pulled in from outside.
  • Try to avoid shocking your body with drastic temperature changes from outdoors to indoors, as this can be hard on your joints.
  • Drink plenty of water, as cooled air is very dry and will pull moisture from your body. It will be harder to stay properly hydrated if you’re in air conditioning throughout the day, so make sure you’re drinking clear fluids regularly.
  • AC dries out the air, and in turn can make your skin dry. Using lotions and moisturizers is the best way to keep your skin looking and feeling great.

Staying comfortable and healthy in the hot summer months doesn’t have to be complicated. If you have questions about how to keep your home cool or how to keep your indoor air clean, contact an HVAC professional for more information.