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The Hidden Dangers of a Dirty Air Conditioner

Air conditioners are our silent partners in comfort, tirelessly working to ensure we stay cool in the summer heat. But like any other appliance in our homes, they require regular care and maintenance. A neglected, dirty air conditioner can be more than just an inconvenience–it can pose significant risks to both our health and our wallets. At Area Sheet Metal, we care about the state of your home and your health! If you have a dirty air conditioner, please contact us if you need advice or assistance.

The Health Risks Posed by a Dirty Air Conditioner

One of the most serious consequences of a dirty air conditioner is the potential harm it can inflict on our health. Air conditioners function by drawing air from your home, cooling it, and then circulating it back into your living space. If the air conditioner is dirty, it can circulate contaminants such as dust, mold spores, and bacteria along with the cool air.

Respiratory Problems

When a dirty air conditioner circulates pollutants in your home, individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions often suffer the most. Here’s how a dirty air conditioner can impact these individuals:

  • Asthma Triggers: Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that can be triggered by airborne irritants. A dirty air conditioner might circulate dust, pet dander, and other particulates that can induce asthma attacks.
  • Allergy Provocation: For allergy sufferers, a dirty air conditioner is like a continuous allergen delivery system. It can spread pollen, dust mites, and mold spores throughout your home, leading to common allergic reactions such as itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing.
  • Breathing Difficulty: Beyond triggering specific conditions, dirty air conditioners can make the simple act of breathing more challenging. This is due to the fine particles that they circulate, which can irritate the airways and cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

Weakening the Immune System

Even for those without existing respiratory conditions, a dirty air conditioner can still pose a threat. Continued exposure to these pollutants can weaken the immune system, making us more susceptible to diseases and infections.

For example, bacteria and viruses can also build up in a poorly maintained air conditioner. When these are circulated, they can cause respiratory infections, leading to symptoms like a sore throat, chest congestion, and even pneumonia.

A Hit on Your Wallet: Increased Energy Bills

Beyond the health risks, a dirty air conditioner can also lead to financial consequences.

Lowered Efficiency

A dirty air conditioner must work harder to achieve the same cooling effect. This lowered efficiency translates to increased energy consumption and, in turn, higher utility bills. It’s not uncommon to see energy bills spike during summer months when a dirty air conditioner is in regular use.

Expensive Repairs and Replacements

An overworked air conditioner can also lead to frequent breakdowns, requiring costly repairs. Even worse, a dirty air conditioner has a shorter lifespan, meaning you may need to replace the entire unit sooner than expected. This is because the dirt and dust that build up on the coils can restrict airflow, making it harder for the unit to cool your home.

Additionally, the dirt can also cause the unit to work harder, which can lead to premature wear and tear. As a result, it is important to have your air conditioner cleaned regularly to prevent these problems from occurring.

How a Dirty Air Conditioner Can Affect the Environment

Now that you know how a dirty air conditioner can affect your health and home, what about the environment? The impact of a dirty air conditioner doesn’t stop at your front door. Its effects can extend to our planet as well.

Increased Carbon Footprint

A dirty air conditioner will consume more energy than a clean one. This is because the dirt and dust on the coils of the air conditioner will make it work harder to cool the air. The extra energy that the air conditioner uses will come from the power grid, which is often powered by fossil fuels. When fossil fuels are burned, they release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which contribute to global warming. Therefore, a dirty air conditioner can have a negative impact on the environment.

To reduce your carbon footprint, you can clean your air conditioner regularly. You can also make sure that your air conditioner is properly sized for your home. A too-large air conditioner will work harder than it needs to, and a too-small air conditioner will not be able to cool your home effectively.

Waste Generation

When air conditioners break down, they often end up in landfills, where they release harmful pollutants into the environment. Additionally, some parts of air conditioners are not easily recyclable, which further contributes to waste. In a world where we are trying to minimize our environmental impact, it is important to keep our air conditioners clean and well-maintained. This will help to extend the life of our appliances and reduce the amount of waste that we produce.

Here are some tips for keeping your air conditioner clean and well-maintained:

  • Clean the filters regularly.
  • Check the refrigerant levels.
  • Inspect the coils for dirt and debris.
  • Have your air conditioner serviced annually by a qualified technician.

Does Your AC Need a Tuneup?

A tuneup for your air conditioner is a lot like a routine check-up at your doctor’s office—it’s an opportunity to catch potential issues before they turn into serious problems. But what exactly does an AC tuneup include? Let’s dive into the details:

Testing and Checking Components

  • Thermostat Operation/Battery Life: We’ll ensure your thermostat is working properly and that the battery life is sufficient for smooth operation.
  • Filter Replacement: Checking and replacing your filter is a crucial step to maintain air quality and system efficiency.
  • Temperature Drop/Delta T: We measure the difference in temperature between the air entering the AC and the cooled air it produces.
  • IAQ Lifespan: We’ll check the lifespan of your indoor air quality (IAQ) components to ensure they’re still effective.
  • Electrical Disconnect Test: This checks the disconnection and shutdown mechanism for safety.
  • Voltage and Amperage on Motors: This test ensures that your motors are receiving the correct voltage and current.
  • Hard Starting Compressor Check: We’ll look for signs of your compressor struggling to start, which can indicate a larger issue.
  • Condensate Drain and Pump: These parts will be checked to ensure your AC is correctly removing moisture from the air.
  • Electrical Connections: We’ll tighten all electrical connections to ensure safe operation.

Inspections

  • Condenser Coil: Inspecting this crucial component for damage can help prevent system failure.
  • Motor Bearings and Other Moving Parts: We lubricate and inspect these parts to ensure your AC runs smoothly.
  • Fan Belt Tension: Proper tension helps your AC run more efficiently.
  • Blower Wheel: We’ll inspect the blower wheel for any signs of damage or wear.
  • Presence of Leaks: We check for any leaks, whether it’s gas, oil, water, refrigerant, or air.
  • Contactor: This switch controls the electrical flow to your AC’s components. We’ll inspect and test it to ensure it’s working correctly.
  • System Components: Each component of your AC system will be closely inspected and tested for proper operation.

Cleaning and Maintenance

  • Condenser Coil Cleaning: We clean the condenser coil to improve your AC’s heat transfer capabilities.
  • Sweep Out Electrical Cabinet: Cleaning the cabinet prevents dust and debris from interfering with your AC’s electrical components.
  • Capacitance Test: This measures the charge storage capacity of your AC’s single and dual assist batteries.
  • Service Valves: We’ll make sure that your service valves are properly capped to prevent leaks.
  • Condenser Cleaning and Waxing: Regular cleaning and waxing protect your condenser from the elements and keep your AC running smoothly.

Whether your AC is dirty or you’re concerned about its performance, contact us at Area Sheet for your ac tune-up or preventative maintenance plan.

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