Air conditioners usually help people with allergies and respiratory problems, because they are not only used to cool the air, but also condition the air inside the home from carrying too much humidity and other allergens. However, some allergy sufferers may think that they see an increase in runny noses, sneezing and itchy eyes when they turn on the AC. So we want know, do air conditioning allergies exist, or is there something else happening to cause those symptoms?
Big AC = The BIG Sneezy
When people are looking to buy an air conditioner, one of the biggest misconceptions is that a bigger unit is better for your house. It seems like it would provide more cooling and conditioning, but the opposite can be true, especially for allergy sufferers. If you want a unit running at peak efficiency, you need to pick the proper size, because according to the U.S. Department of Energy, “an oversized unit will cool the room(s) to the thermostat set-point before proper dehumidification occurs, making the area feel ‘clammy’ and uncomfortable.”
That also means that the improperly sized AC unit would be a detriment to those with allergies.
“In the case of an oversized AC unit, the system does not run long enough to dehumidify,” says Keith Hill, manager technical support, for Minnesota Air. “The cold clammy air will cause some allergies and respiratory ailments to get worse.”
So, if you have a cool but humid house and are suffering from allergies while inside your home, a wrong size air conditioner may be to blame.
Kicking Up Dust
Another reason people may think their allergies are worse with the air conditioner on is if your AC is circulating contaminated air. If you’ve made sure that pollen and other pollutants aren’t creeping in through screen doors or open windows, but you are still suffering, then it’s time to think of the last time you’ve had your HVAC system cleaned.
This is the area where we also want to remind you of our golden rule of a well-maintained HVAC system—always have a clean filter. Yes, even in the summer and spring!
A filter that is clogged with dirt and dust will need to work harder to provide heating and cooling to your home, it can spread more allergens around, it won’t be as efficient which will cost you more money, and it can lead to damage of your HVAC system. It’s all a lesson learned in our guide - Air Filters 101.
And, because your AC works by circulating air inside the home and exchanging it with air outside the home, Keith says you also want to check the duct system for dirt and clean it if necessary. For that, you may want to hire a professional to get an air duct cleaning, and you’ll be breathing easier in no time.