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Can Air Conditioning Make You Sick?

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Sick person blowing their nose because of air conditioning

Air conditioning can help keep your house cool in the summer, but can your AC unit make you sick? Some people think that too much cool air can leave you with a cold, or is there another way your air conditioning can affect your health, like a broken unit

If you’re wondering if your AC can make you sick, the answer is a bit complicated. Continue reading to learn more about your air conditioning unit, including if it can leave you feeling ill. 

Air Conditioning Can Affect You in More Ways Than You Thought

When people think of air conditioning, they usually assume its only purpose is to keep homes cool. While this is true, your AC can affect you in more ways than you think. 

AC units can help keep pets, older adults, and small children safe during summer heatwaves. Your AC unit can filter out pollution, lowering indoor concentrations of air pollutants like particles, ozone, and allergens. 

Your AC can be helpful if you have allergies. Air conditioning can help you stay cool without having to expose yourself to outside allergens. AC can benefit you in several ways, but can it negatively affect your health or make you sick? 

Can Air Conditioning Make You Sick? 

Generally, a well-maintained air conditioning unit won’t make you sick. However, your AC can potentially increase your chance of getting sick if it circulates cold-causing viruses. If mould, bacteria, or other microbes grow in your unit, you may experience several irritating symptoms.  

A poorly-maintained air conditioning unit can have an impact on your overall health.

How Can Air Conditioning Affect Your Health? 

Air conditioning units need regular maintenance to operate at their best. When issues develop, your AC can affect your health. Your AC unit can impact your health in the following ways: 

Circulate Mould, Bacteria, Yeast, & Fungi Throughout Your Home

Exposure to mould and other microbes can significantly affect your health. Most people think of mould as the result of leaving food in the fridge for too long, but it can grow in many areas of your home. Mould exposure can irritate your skin, eyes, nose, throat, and lungs

Without regular maintenance, your AC unit may suffer a buildup of stagnant water, which can lead to the development of mould, bacteria, and other fungi. Air conditioning can then circulate these microbes around your home, making you sick. 

Certain people can be more sensitive to this exposure, including those with allergies and asthma, children, seniors, and people with compromised immune systems. 

You may experience several symptoms if microbes are circulating through your home, such as: 

  • Dry, irritated eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Irritated throat or nasal passages
  • Headaches
Microbes coming out of an air conditioner

Increase Your Chance of Getting Sick

Another risk factor for your health is running your AC too cold. While being cold or chilly won’t make you sick, your AC can help cold-causing viruses spread. Low humidity, cold environments help these viruses survive. 

The common cold typically lasts between 7 to 10 days, but there’s always the chance colds can lead to an infection. Consider avoiding lower temperatures when using your AC, and keep an eye out for cold symptoms, including: 

  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Mucus

Contribute to Sick Building Syndrome

Sick building syndrome (SBS) is the name of a condition that professionals believe is caused by being inside a building or enclosed space. It typically occurs because of poor air quality, possibly caused by an air conditioning unit. 

SBS is used as a term to describe symptoms that aren’t immediately understood. Some of these symptoms include

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Chest tightness
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing 
  • Headaches
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Chills

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms when at home, your AC may need an inspection. Moisture in your unit may lead to irritants circulating throughout your home. Is there any way you can avoid these issues developing in your air conditioning unit? 

How Can You Avoid Issues Relating to Your Air Conditioning? 

If you’re concerned about your air conditioning making you sick, you don’t have to worry too much. A well-maintained unit shouldn’t affect your health in a significant way. If you’re looking to avoid potential issues, the best thing you can do is have your air conditioning unit serviced regularly. 

How Often Should Your Air Conditioning Unit Be Serviced? 

While emergencies can happen that require a sudden repair, you should have your air conditioning unit maintained by a professional at least once a year. Annual service can help keep your AC running smoothly, and it can help extend its lifespan. 

Keep Your Air Conditioning in the Best Shape Possible

While your AC can affect your health, you can avoid complications with regularly scheduled maintenance. With the help of a trained professional, you can help your air conditioning last. 

If you need your air conditioning unit serviced, contact your local expert today

Written by Ryan Tutak

Ryan is considered one of Calgary's most knowledgeable residential HVAC specialists. Working in the industry for over 12 years, he's helped thousands of homeowners with their heating and cooling systems. Outside of running Calgary's most reputable HVAC business, you can find him on the Golf course practicing his short game or traveling with his family. His main goal is to create a positive collaborative culture, one in which his employees are excited to come in and are motivated to work hard. He spends the majority of his day working directly with Home Comfort Advisors, Service and Maintenance Technicians, and Customer Service Representatives ensuring they are fully prepared to lead the Home Service Industry in Customer Service.

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