Home is the place where you feel safe, secure, and cozy. While there is a lot of talk about smart homes being the future, there is one technological achievement that will never go out of style – air conditioner. Today it is impossible to imagine a life without air conditioning, as soon as the heat and humidity begin to overwhelm us. Intense heat has become very difficult to tolerate, especially when the heatwave breaks all the records.
So it’s quite natural that we’ve all gotten used to air conditioning which can make a far more pleasant atmosphere in our homes during these insanely hot days. But no matter how convenient it is to turn the AC as soon as the temperature makes you a bit uncomfortable, this could also be harmful, not just for your wallet. If not used right, air conditioning can cause certain pathologies, so certain precautions are mandatory. If your AC unit is old or poorly-maintained, it could lead to many health conditions such as the spread of certain diseases or respiratory conditions. Today air conditioning is everywhere – in our homes, offices, and cars – but that doesn’t mean we have no control over our personal well-being. You can easily live a healthy lifestyle with an air conditioner after you get acquainted with these quite easy methods to minimize the risks.
The Sick Building Syndrome
This ominous-sounding phenomenon was born in the 70s inside office buildings. People have started saying that the buildings are the ones that were making them sick. Although this may sound pretty crazy, these people did suffer from a range of seemingly unrelated symptoms such as irritated skin, fatigue, headaches, breathing problems, and nasal congestion. While there are many causes for this peculiar syndrome, research has quickly linked AC systems in office buildings to many of the mentioned systems. While there is no definite explanation, the most likely one is that certain microorganisms which are growing in the system may have a subtle effect on certain people. It’s still not clear how big of a problem this is since it’s not clear how many people are sensitive to this, but it’s a reason enough to take precautions.
Contrary to heating systems, the very process of cooling hot air creates a lot of condensation and moisture, and the job of an AC system is also to channel this away. Shoddy design, damage, or poor maintenance can make your AC system inefficient in performing this task, so it becomes a breeding ground for fungi and bacteria. This means that routinely serviced and well-maintained Ac unit is your first line of defense.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that AC also doesn’t have many health benefits. It is literally a life-saver during intense heat waves. What’s more, it efficiently filters out the particles in outdoor pollutants which are pretty common in the urban environment, especially when heavy traffic is involved. So it’s all about the knowledge of how AC works in order to harvest the benefits and avoid the risks.
Indoor And Outdoor Temperatures
Concerning the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures, a human body shouldn’t undergo changes greater than 8 degrees. Greater changes in temperature than that can cause us to fall ill with muscle cramps, dry eyes, headaches, nasal drip, and sore throats. In cases where the change of temperature is much greater, there is a serious risk of thermal shock which could result in the loss of consciousness and even respiratory arrest in the most serious cases. That’s why it’s mandatory to keep a watchful eye on the temperature of your air conditioner and respect the recommended difference with the exterior of no more than 5 to 8 degrees. Despite the fact that you’ll avoid the above-mentioned unpleasant symptoms, you’ll also do something good for the environment at the same time.
Avoid Direct Exposure to Cold Air
If you’ve woken up with a painful crick in the neck or with an awful sore throat, the most likely reason is that you’ve been sleeping in direct contact with air conditioning. If your directly exposed to cold air your neck will inevitably get stiff and suffer from significant muscular contractions. That’s why the first step of protection is to avoid direct exposure to cold air. It is best to place your AC unit – no matter if it’s a window or portable one – inside the room that’s adjacent to the bedroom. If that’s not possible for some reason then you should use your unit to refresh the room during the day and turn it off during the night. You should avoid aiming the airflow directly at yourself on all occasions, so don’t forget to apply the same rule when you’re driving in your car.
Dust & Mold
There is a reason why the service of air duct cleaning is so popular – the buildup of dust and mold growth can also cause serious health problems. The most important reason for having professional HVAC technician clean or evaluate your AC system each year before you turn it on is the safety and health of the occupants. As we’ve already mentioned, condensation is created by the indoor section of an AC unit all summer long, and that’s a prime catalyst for mildew and mold growth. During the winter when the system lays dormant the mold can easily grow and spread. If your unit is not cleaned properly that mold can lead to so-called dirty sock odor and respiratory problems. Furthermore, the motor and blower can also end up covered in dust, creating a food source for mold to thrive.
This potential risk becomes even bigger if you’ be had some recent renovations, so that’s a reason more to have your AC unit cleaned. Home renovations often include the removal of lead-based paint or asbestos, which usually causes unwanted debris to get caught inside. If you don’t clean out this debris before you start using the AC unit for the summer, it will end up circulating particles and dust from the renovation throughout your home.
Due to the insane heatwaves in Australia, the demand for AC units were going crazy. But as Sydney aircon experts constantly point out, it’s not all about top-of-the-class products and affordable pricing – the first-class service actually plays the most important part. A lot of technicians offer repair services, but, precisely for the reasons mentioned above, your focus shouldn’t be solely on repairs. You should always contact professionals with equal specialty in the installation process since the most important part of the job takes place before you turn the system on. If everything is set up to the last detail repairs will turn into simple maintenance and the benefits will be guaranteed for the years to come.
Poor Air Quality
This is the part of maintenance you can perform yourself, which doesn’t mean it’s any less important. Poor air quality associated with AC systems is caused mainly by occupants’ negligence. Many of us use AC units to recirculate only indoor air to save energy, but since 15 cubic feet of outside air per minute per person is a required minimum, this can negatively impact indoor quality. On the other hand, window units need to be properly sealed or otherwise, they’ll let in outside air and undermine the work of the unit. If you don’t change the filters regularly you’ll restrict the airflow and when they get dirty they won’t be able to stop outside irritants such as pesticides and allergens from entering your home.
Luckily, solutions are quite simple. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and regularly change or clean the filters. Allow fresh air to circulate and flush out pollutants by opening the windows as much as you can. Turn the temperature up when the house is empty and at night or, even better, turn the unit off altogether. It’s also good to use the fan-only mode when there’s no need for changing the temperature. You shouldn’t skip the annual maintenance check, but you should also know that every ten years it’s time to buy a new unit.
Like every piece of technology, AC units have their benefits and their risks. Everything that’s needed to avoid health risks and maintain a healthy lifestyle is to use it properly. The first step is to keep your eye on the temperature and avoid direct exposure to airflow. Proper maintenance will always require the involvement of experienced professionals, but there are day-to-day precautions that remain in your hands as an occupant.