Updated September 2023
Air conditioners are amazing inventions of the modern world. They chill your home seemingly on-demand with the push of a button. You can control settings on the AC and adjust the temperature just how you like it. However, contrary to popular belief, these units are not magical. Some people try to use them to purify the air indoors with not much success. As good as these appliances are at cooling the air, there are certain things that they cannot do. When you try to use an AC to eliminate pollution, you’re usually not accomplishing this in addition to reducing the effectiveness of the unit in the first place. Let’s take a look at whether air conditioners help to clean up indoor air pollution.
What Does an Air Conditioners Do?
First, let’s take a look at the true purpose of AC units. They exist to cool the air inside your home when the outside temperature is hot. You seal all the doors and windows and turn the AC on to lower the temperature. The technology inside the device sucks in air and sends it back out at a different temperature. Overall, this is a very efficient process that works every single time. However, there are certain things that ACs are not designed to do. They are not a means to handle humidifying or dehumidifying your home. While they do adjust the humidity level a little bit, you have little to no control over the degree to which this happens. Your unit is also not designed to clean up air pollution. While the AC does contain an air filter, the air that goes in can still contain some impurities and pollutants that a standard air filter does not have the ability to catch. While it might look like there is a lot of filtering going on, it’s really, for the most part, just a change in temperature. The actual air is being filtered, but likely not enough to keep away impurities that cause irritated airways or an asthma attack because many of the particulates are just too tiny for a standard filter to grab hold of. Your air ducts also can have settled dust and pollen just lying there, waiting for the AC air to send it out to circulate in your home. It’s a common misconception that just because the air is cooler, it is cleaner. Chilled air certainly feels refreshing, but the infectious particles are so small that you can’t be detected simply by breathing. Any claims that the AC can make the indoor air quality better all by itself have simply been bamboozled by the cool air.
Unclean Indoor Air Circulation
Furthermore, an unclean AC unit can actually make matters worse. If the interior of the AC is full of dust and mold, the air it is blowing out is tainted by nature. It’s possible that your indoor air isn’t even bad, to begin with, but the unit is spewing contaminated air all over the place. This is really important to note. Regardless of whether you end up using a different method to clean the air, and regardless of whether the air is dirty in the first place, your AC must be clean at its core. There’s nothing worse than a dirty AC polluting the air indoors. Because the unit violently tosses the air around, particles get everywhere, and not an inch of your home is safe from contamination. Circulation is typically seen as a good thing, and it is. But if you haven’t cleaned your AC in many years, it’s about time that you do so. It could be directly polluting the air without you even noticing. Not all air pollution is noticeable like smoke is. Some particles are invisible to the naked eye and don’t emit an odor. Because your AC could secretly be tainting the air, it’s best to check it regularly for the accumulation of dust.
Airborne Illnesses and Respiratory Irritants
In the worst-case scenario, airborne diseases are floating around your home. These diseases can be more or less harmful depending if your family has any preexisting health conditions. Regardless, you don’t want to take the risk. Trying to pass all these disease particles through an AC unit really isn’t going to do much good. If anything, it will make sure that the particles are well dispersed throughout your home. You have to remember that polluted air consists of particles so small that they can be difficult to see under a microscope. The blades of the AC are nowhere near small enough to catch them. Even the finer parts of the unit such as a wired grate aren’t going to stop the disease. On the other hand, a proper air filter will at least make some progress toward a solution. For diseases, it’s best to locate the source and find a long-term solution. Nevertheless, a filtration system will definitely mitigate the spread and should be the first thing you turn to as a homeowner.
How Can You Have Cleaner Indoor Air?
If air conditioners don’t work, how should you clean up indoor air pollution? The answer is an air purifier. This device is specifically designed to clean the air and make it breathable for you and your family. The air might be polluted if you live in a busy city with lots of pollutants and smog. Another source might be appliances in older homes that emit gases and odors. No matter the reason why your air is contaminated, you want to look into an air purifier to get back on the right track. Simply turn the air purifier on when you come home and give it a few minutes to run. Then, you can relax in the comfort of your home, knowing that the air around you is safe to inhale. Air purifiers often have a couple of settings that you can adjust. If you are the only person at home, instruct the purifier to focus its stream on your location. There’s no point in purifying all the hallways and bedrooms if they aren’t in use. If your family is scattered throughout the house, tell the purifier to operate in a larger area. The purification won’t be as strong where you’re standing, but it will be sufficient, and the rest of the household will be clean as well. There are many models of air purifiers. In general, the average model will suffice for all purposes. Just make sure that it has a strong, sturdy base, and it specifically mentions ventilation in its design.
Cleaning Up Indoor Air Pollution
In conclusion, air conditioners don’t really clean up indoor air pollution. They are great for a number of uses such as keeping you cool during the warm summer months, but they aren’t ideal for addressing poor air quality. Instead, you’ll want to turn to an air purifier that will get the job done properly. Installing this device isn’t always easy, but a company such as Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating in San Antonio, TX, is a great way to do so. Our experienced workers will transport the air purifier to your home and get it set up meticulously and quickly. We’ll explain all the different settings on the purifier and how to best use it for the health of you and your family. We also offer services such as duct repair, VRF systems, and custom remodels.