When temperatures soar, many Americans turn to air conditioners to find relief. Under normal circumstances, air conditioning creates a comfortable environment that alleviates health issues associated with the exposure to high temperatures, like heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Sometimes, however, air conditioning creates new health problems, like allergies and respiratory ailments. If you experience health issues as a result of air conditioning, you will be happy to know there are some easy remedies to your problems.
Mold and Mildew
Under optimal conditions, the air conditioner filters allergens, like pollen and air pollution, from the air. But, they can also cause an increase in allergens if the air conditioner is not maintained properly. A buildup of mold or fungi can occur if you do not clean the filters or empty the water trays frequently. According to Mold Advisor, turning on the air conditioning unit can spread mold spores throughout the home. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) explains that mold and mildew release toxins that can cause disease. These include symptoms of allergies, such as watery, itchy eyes, sneezing and coughing. Here's how to avoid problems with mold or fungi in your air conditioner.
- Have your air conditioning unit professionally cleaned at least once a year.
- Check the filter often and replace it if your see signs of mold or mildew. Mold and mildew may look either gray or black and is typically slimy.
- Empty the water tray of your air conditioner regularly. Sitting water is a breeding ground for mold and mildew.
- Check your duct work for any signs of mold or mildew.
- Check that window air conditioners drain outside the home.
A lack of fresh air into your home can result in a buildup of air pollution and allergens, even when running the air conditioner. Because the air conditioner circulates the same air throughout the home, it is important to find other ways to exchange the air. This can be accomplished easily in the average home.
- Open the windows at night or in the early morning when the temperatures simmer down.
- Use an attic fan or exhaust fan to pull stale air out of your home.
- Open two windows on opposite ends of the house to encourage a cross breeze to exchange the air in your home.
Intolerance to Heat
If you spend long hours in air conditioned areas, you may develop an intolerance to heat. What this means to you is that when you walk outside in hot weather you may feel weak, and fatigued or experience head aches and dizziness. Healthline, explains that heat intolerance can lead to heat stroke and heat exhaustion or other serious health issues. You can combat heat intolerance from air conditioning by controlling your body temperature.
- Avoid unnecessary exposure to outside temperatures on sweltering days. That means stay home if you can, otherwise plan your excursions for the coolest part of the day.
- Increase the temperature setting on you air conditioner gradually if you intend to go out in the hot weather. Turning it off entirely and using a fan for cooling before going out is also an option. This allows your body to adjust to a gradual increase in temperature.
- Wear a light jacket or sweater if you work in an air conditioned area where the temps are cool. This prevents you from becoming over-cooled which can lead to heat intolerance when you go out in the sun. Carrying a jacket with you to wear when you enter a super-cooled area also helps you prevent problems with rapid temperature changes, says Hello Daily News.
One of the advantages of air conditioning is the system's ability to remove the moisture from the air. When the outside air is hot and steamy, removing the moisture lowers the humidity level and makes you feel more comfortable. However, sometimes air conditioning does it's job a little too well and leaves you to battle the effects of dry air. This means your skin may be dry and flaky and you may suffer from a a dry throat and mouth. Solving these issues is relatively easy.
- Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated and provide your skin with the water it needs. Drinking water also combats the effects of a dry throat and mouth.
- Avoid sleeping or working with the vent from the air conditioner blowing on you.
- Apply lotion to your skin frequently to prevent it from drying.
- Turn off the air conditioner and use a fan when possible.
- Use a humidifier or cool mist vaporize to add moisture to your sleeping or work area.
With proper maintenance and care, your air conditioner can bring relief from the heat, leaving you feeling more energetic and productive. If you suspect your air conditioning system has problems with mold or is not circulating the air properly, call a professional from places like HomeSmart From Xcel Energy to check out the air conditioner and duct work to insure everything is in working order.