Many of us share a shelter with various pollutants – airborne and otherwise – such as dust, mold and spores, tobacco smoke, pet debris, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide, lead, asbestos and radon. In worst cases, due to tight insulation and the lack of proper and regular cleaning, the interiors of a house may end up even more polluted than its outside environment, making the homes extremely unlivable for its occupants.
One of the major causes of air pollution inside the house is a poorly maintained air-conditioning system. While the A/C is meant to keep a house and its inhabitants comfortable and safe from a number of heat-related complications and discomforts, many homeowners seem to be convinced that as long as their units are still working, no matter how inefficient in manner, there is no definite need for a costly inspection, tune-up or replacement.
This simple act of neglect, however, can lead to various issues that consequently result to the depreciation of the livability of the house. These issues include clogged and dirty air filters, dusty and rusty indoor and outdoor units, and infected and leaky ductworks, all resulting to poor, allergen-infested indoor air quality and serving serious negative consequences to the health condition of every household member.
Our respiratory systems are most vulnerable
Household members with respiratory complications are the most at-risk in a highly air-polluted home. This is mainly because the allergens that are trapped indoors aggravate conditions such as allergies, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, and trigger flu-like illnesses, fatigue, coughing and sore throat, congestion and wheezing, and eye, nose and throat irritation.
One of the most efficient ways of preventing this is by regularly making sure that the air filter in the air conditioner is clean and unclogged. Depending on the type of air filter used, it may need to be changed (or in certain cases, simply thoroughly cleaned) every one to three months of use. This ensures that the airflow that circulates in the room is free of unwanted airborne particles. Allowing dirt and dust to accumulate in the air filter greatly depreciates the efficiency of the air conditioning system.
Regular exposure can introduce new diseases
Even household members with healthy lungs may also suffer, as breathing-in allergens, such as VOCs and carbon monoxide, can result to major health problems. At high levels, these substances can even be lethal.
In addition, long-term exposure to these allergens, especially among children, can lead to the development of asthma and other complications or damages to the respiratory system or even other organs in the body, illnesses to which they were otherwise not susceptible. The effects of these airborne particles may even come to the equivalence of that of smoking when ignored for a very long period of time.
Aside from changing or cleaning the air filter regularly, a good preventive measure would be to ensure that both the indoor and outdoor units are clean and in good condition. From regular wiping or dusting, to professional maintenance and inspections, make sure that your home’s air-conditioning system gets all the care that it needs.
Development of mold infestation
Mold spores are invisible to the naked eye, and they fill the indoor air with toxins. They can accumulate in the folds of a person’s ears and other vulnerable body areas, which can cause serious irritation, and it may even dry out and lead to bleeding. Mold has also been linked to respiratory problems, allergic reactions and even depression.
Rid your home of these allergens by investing in a dehumidifier for damp areas, cleaning out air conditioner drip pans, and letting in fresh air and sunlight to kill mold.
Noise pollution due to unit malfunction
Unusual noises that come from the unit, such as constant humming and ticking, may be a sign that the system is experiencing certain malfunctions. Their potential to cause you and your family to hear damage gets higher the longer you try to bear with it. So, as soon as you notice these signs, perform a general inspection of the system by yourself, and call for professional assistance if you find that you cannot deal with the issue on your own.
Decomposing animal remains can lead to bacterial infections
Animal life getting trapped in the ducts eventually die and their decomposing remains can lead to bacterial growth, which consequently leads to the release of these bacteria in the indoor air through the vents of the air conditioner. Rotting remains of snakes, rodents and insects inside your HVAC system can also subject you and your family to extremely displeasing smells that will make your time at home very uncomfortable.
The only way to prevent this from happening is by having a professional A/C contractor inspect the ductwork of the unit on a regular basis. Through this, you can rest assured that there aren’t any unusual entities growing, living or decomposing in your air-conditioning system’s ductwork.