JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Air conditioners are a godsend during those hot and humid days of summer, but the same appliance that cools you down could also make you sick. From dust to mold, air conditioners can spread a lot more than just cool air.
Examine your window AC unit
If you don’t have central air conditioning, then you know the drill: haul your heavy, awkward window air conditioner out of storage for the summer season. But, it could be harboring mold and other irritants.
“Without proper care and maintenance mold can actually grow on the inside which has the potential to lead to health problems like wheezing, congestion and throat irritation," warned Consumer Reports Home Editor Paul Hope.
Steps to ensure indoor air isn't bad for your health
Consumer Reports says you must examine your air conditioner and be on the lookout for clusters of tiny black spots along the air duct.
“Cleaning the louvers is a good first step BUT if you see mold on them there’s a good chance that there’s more hiding inside the air conditioner. If that’s the case, you really want to consider buying a new one,” explained Hope.
Recommended window AC units
Consumer Reports recommends the SPT model # WA-12FMS1 for larger rooms. It costs about $340.
For midsize rooms, Consumer Reports says you may want to consider the Kenmore model # 77080 for $270.
Install your window AC properly
Whether you already have a window AC unit or bought a new one, you do want to make sure it's installed properly.
Consumer Reports says you need to make sure it is slightly tilted to the outside. This is important so that any condensation or rain water won't end up on the inside -- which could also cause a mold problem.
Install the air conditioner’s side panels snugly against the side of the window frame.
Use the weather stripping foam that comes with most ACs so that outside air can’t creep in. This will save energy and keep pollen and other allergens outside.
Consumer Reports says it’s also a good idea to clean the filter on your AC at the start of the season and then once a month after that.
“It will help the machine run efficiently and keep the air it circulates, clean,” Hope added.
Keep your central AC unit running all summer
If you have a central AC unit, Consumer Reports has some simple DIY steps to keep your unit running cool and clean all summer.