Can Dirty AC Systems Cause Health Problems?

It’s been a hot minute since you’ve gotten around to cleaning your air conditioner. It’s not like you’ve neglected your AC on purpose. You’ve just had a lot of other things going on that were more urgent.

Your to-do list is getting shorter all the time, so you’ll soon be able to schedule some time to clean the air conditioner. Long before then, you'd noticed that it’s quite dirty. Between now and the time you get to clean it, will your dirty AC cause any health issues?

Certainly, yes. All that dirt that’s trapped within the air conditioner has to go somewhere, and that’s usually out of the HVAC unit and through the vents in your home. There, you and your family will breathe in the dirty, dusty air every single day.

It’s not only dust and dirt that’s in the air, by the way. Those are just the particles you can see. What about pollen, which is invisible to the naked eye unless in a cluster? Or airborne mold? Or pet dander?

These other contaminants will float throughout the house as well. After all, if your AC is dirty, your filter is more likely as well, so the contaminants in the air are not being filtered out.

What are the implications of breathing in all this junk? If you have healthy lungs, they won’t stay that way for long. Dirt and dust can accumulate in the lung tissue, damaging your lungs. This could eventually cause chronic respiratory disease.

If you have asthma, the dirty air indoors might be no safer for you to breathe in than the air that is outdoors. You’ll find yourself having more asthma attacks and having to use your inhaler frequently to catch your breath.

For those with allergies, it’s a bad time too. Pet dander allergies are caused by the dead skin of animals. Now that dander floats freely in the dirty air, your allergy symptoms could be exacerbated. That’s also true if you have a pollen or mold allergy.

It’s even worse if you have a vented air conditioner. Air ducts are hotbeds for trapped dirt and debris. It’s not like you can easily access your home’s ductwork, so the contaminants are left to accumulate more and more. You’ll eventually have to call a technician to come to the house and clean out the vents because your health issues are getting that bad.

A ductless mini split system cuts out all the ductwork and reduces your risk of illness from breathing in airborne contaminants. However, even a ductless mini split’s AC can get dirty without proper maintenance.

How often do you have to clean the AC? At least annually, so it’s not a frequent job. You can dust off the exterior housing of the outdoor compressor, but your ductless mini split technician will have to take care of the deep cleaning.

Once the air in your home is cleaner, you and your family will literally be able to breathe easier. You’ll also enjoy peace of mind that your home is a more habitable place to be!