Can Your Air Conditioner Trigger Your Allergy or Make You Sick?


Ever get that feeling your air conditioner might be making you sick?

It could be that dry irritated feeling in the back of your throat, itchy eyes, random urges to cough, even two consecutive sneezes is enough to give anyone a scare.

But is it really your air conditioner causing all these symptoms to occur? Is there such a thing as being allergic to an air conditioner? Allergens, bacteria and contaminants trapped inside the system and filters can trigger symptoms

While your air conditioner itself can’t make you sick, the allergens, bacteria and contaminants trapped inside the system and filters can trigger symptoms.

The air filters in your air conditioner provides better indoor air quality by filtering out and trapping all the pollutants and contaminants in your home. This is why it’s so important to clean and maintain the air filters regularly.

If not, each time you turn on your air conditioner, the contaminants and microorganisms trapped inside are then circulated in the air you breathe and can remain on furniture, walls and fabric throughout your home.

You may experience the following symptoms:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Dry/irritated throat
  • Shortness of breath / asthma
  • Itchy eyes
  • Headaches 
  • Tiredness
  • Stuffy nose

What actually causes these symptoms?

So, what’s causing these symptoms? To help you identify the culprit, we’ve created a list of contaminants that can build up in your air conditioning system. Pollen 

Pollen is the leading cause for hay fever symptoms such as sneezing, itchy throat and eyes, stuffy nose and watery eyes. It often enters the home through open windows and doors, but can also be brought inside on clothing and shoes. 

Pollen particles can settle onto furniture, carpet flooring and other surfaces. Turning on the AC disturbs these particles and disperses them into the air, which is when you may experience hay fever symptoms. 

The best way to decrease the amount of pollen inside the home is to close windows and doors, especially during spring season.

Pet dander

This one typically applies to pet owners only. Apart from pet hair scattered throughout the home, pet dander contains proteins that most people are allergic to, which is pet hair combined with saliva.

Turning on your AC system can help circulate dander and pet hair throughout your home, causing allergies to flare.

To help minimise pet dander, brush and wash your pets regularly, and vacuum up pet hair wherever you can.

Dust mites

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to see these little suckers as they are microscopic, but dust mites tend to live in furniture, pillows, mattresses, blankets, carpet flooring, curtains and any other type of fabric in your home. 

Thankfully, they do not bite or live on humans, however they will cause your allergies to flare up. Dust mites reproduce in warmer, more humid weather so it’s best to maintain 40 – 50% relative humidity to keep them at bay.

Formaldehyde from building materials (VOCS)

Volatile organic compounds and chemicals can be found in building materials, as well as cleaning supplies and other common household items which can be the cause of your AC allergies. 

VOC gases are emitted from cleaning supplies, paint, pesticides, gas, certain air fresheners and candles, and cigarettes. Your AC system can help circulate these toxic gases throughout your home, especially if you’ve just done some house cleaning.

Mould and mildew

When was the last time you cleaned your AC unit’s air filters? Air conditioning units damp environments make it the perfect breeding ground for harmful bacterias to flourish. 

Mould and mildew release harmful toxins into the air and turning on your air conditioner helps circulate it through your home and cause allergic reactions, trigger asthma symptoms or disease.

Regular cleaning and maintenance keeps the allergies away

The best way to maintain a healthy home is to regularly clean and maintain your air conditioning unit. This means cleaning the air filters every 3-4 months and once every month during the peak seasons. 

Click here for a step-by-step guide on how to clean your AC unit’s filters

Cleaning your air conditioner regularly also helps you save money in the long run by running more efficiently. When an air conditioner is clogged up with dirt and dust restricts air flow, which means it has to work harder to maintain comfort in your home, consuming more energy.

Other ways to improve indoor air quality includes:

  • Use an air purifier to filter out contaminants and improve indoor air quality
  • Control your homes relative humidity with an air humidifier to prevent the growth of microorganisms
  • Remove any standing water, water-damaged materials, damp fabric or any other wet surfaces, which often encourage the growth of mould, mildew, bacteria and dust mites.
  • Wash and clean pets regularly
  • Cleaning more often can help reduce the amount of allergens in your home
  • Wash all bedding and linens thoroughly in hot water to remove skin cells, pollen, dust mites and other contaminants.

The most effective way to maintain a healthy home is to have your air conditioner professionally serviced and maintained. We understand not everyone has the time or patience to regularly clean air filters, replace worn parts and maintain their air conditioning unit. 

Consider having your AC system professionally maintained by All Air Services. We’ll send out an expert technician who will:

  • Perform routine cleaning and servicing of your air conditioning system, such as sealing leaking ducts on a ducted system.
  • Recommend any additional servicing if necessary
  • Recommend new parts and replace damaged ones
  • Provide you with energy-efficient advice on how to operate your system
  • Do all of the above while adhering to Australian Safety Standards.

And most importantly, provide you with an absolute all-year comfort solution for your home and family. Contact All Air Services today.

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