If you, or a member of your family, suffer from allergies, you already know that spring and summer can be a difficult time. As warm weather arrives, the air is often filled with pollen from grass, trees and flowering plants. You may have heard conflicting advice about using an air conditioner in your home to lessen the effects of allergens in the air. While some claim closing the windows and turning on the AC alleviates allergy symptoms because it prevents exposure to outside allergens, others claim that the air conditioner makes allergies worse by stirring up inside allergens. You may find yourself wondering if air conditioning is a good option for your home.
Are Air Conditions Good for People with Allergies?
Air conditioners make you feel more comfortable and make breathing easier when outside temperatures soar. They offer those with allergies relief when the unit is functioning properly. However, there are times when a faulty or improperly maintained air conditioner can make allergies worse. This sometimes leads people to believe that air conditioners cause allergies. Once you understand how allergens and air conditioning interact, and how to avoid common problems, you will be on your way to enjoying the comfort of an air-conditioned home without worries about causing allergy problems.
If the source of your allergy problems lies outside the home from pollen and other air pollutants, closing the windows to keep them out and turning on the AC to keep your home comfortable is likely to bring relief. This is especially important during peak allergy season when the air is laden with pollen from nearby trees and flowers. It is also important whenever someone mows nearby lawns and does yard work, as these activities stir up allergens. For those who suffer from airborne allergens, air conditioning may bring welcome relief and make breathing easier. Take these steps to reduce allergy symptoms from outside sources:
- Keep all windows closed and run the air conditioner.
- Replace the air conditioner's filters frequently.
- Use cheesecloth to cover your air conditioning vents. This will help filter out pollen.
- Install a HEPA filter on your air conditioner. You may need a professional to do this, as some systems are not equipped to handle high-efficiency filters and may require adaptations to your system. Talk to your air conditioning professional before attempting to install one on your own.
Sometimes the source of your allergies lies inside the home, or inside your air conditioning ducts. Leftover dust and debris from construction can settle in the ductwork and be forced into the air when the air conditioner is in use. Pet dander and dust mites can also be stirred up by the flow of air from the AC. Dirty or clogged filters can cause a buildup of moisture in your air conditioner that leads to mold growth. When this happens, mold spores can be forced throughout your home via the air conditioning ducts making allergies worse. Follow these tips, if inside allergens are a problem.
- Eliminate sources of inside allergens when possible by prohibiting smoking, using exhaust fans when cooking and keeping pets out of the bedroom.
- Call in a professional to clean your air conditioner's ductwork.
- Change filters often.
- Check for signs of excess moisture in and around your air conditioner. If you suspect mold in the ductwork, call a certified mold tester to check it out for you.
- Use a dehumidifier in damp areas of your home to help prevent mold from forming in the first place.
Understanding the interplay between air conditioners and allergies put you in a position to keep allergies under control while enjoying the comfort of your air conditioner in the heat of summer.