As a parent, it's tough to watch your children struggle with allergies. Unfortunately, respiratory allergies strike more than 10 percent -- 7.8 million -- of children in the U.S. As you consider how to make your child more comfortable, you'll naturally begin to analyze everything in your home and wonder whether it's contributing to allergies and breathing problems in your son or daughter.
One possible culprit is the air conditioner. Whether you have a window unit or a whole-house system, the air conditioner can have its pros and cons when it comes to allergies.
How Air Conditioning Helps Allergies
Humidity can help allergens to thrive. Dust mites, molds and mildews all love damp air. Running an air conditioner can help to keep the correct level of humidity in your home, which will prevent these allergens from thriving and help your children breathe better.
Also, if you run air conditioning in your house, you're not opening windows for cooling, which can let outside allergens enter the home easily.
How Air Conditioning Can Exacerbate Allergies
The biggest problem with central air conditioning is that air gets re-circulated throughout the home -- and any allergens or contaminants flow along with that air. Those might include:
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
- Contaminants from outside like pollen
- Synthetic fibers from carpeting and furniture
In addition, most homeowners with air conditioning want their energy dollars to be spent most effectively. That means that any gaps or holes to the outside must be sealed or patched. Using caulking and insulation to minimize the loss of heated or cooled air is normally a fantastic idea, but it also keeps the home from being able to "breathe." In other words, there is little or no air flow between inside and outside, so indoor allergens just keep hanging around.
Second, the cool air that is produced by air conditioners can produce condensation. In central AC, that forms in the ducts; in wall or window units, it forms in the fins and coils of the unit itself. What does condensation cause? That's right -- mold is more likely to form in areas where there is more water in the air. Even the drying effects of AC can't make up for how this forms in ductwork.
How To Minimize Allergy Problems Related to Your AC
It sounds a bit like a Catch-22, doesn't it? Enclosed spaces in the home reduce air flow between inside and outside, so indoor allergens can't escape -- but outdoor allergens can't get in, either. AC units reduce humidity, which reduces mold growth -- but the condensation that forms in some parts of the system can cause mold.
Your air conditioning specialist can help you minimize your specific problems by assessing your home and knowing what your children are allergic to. Allergen reducing filters and regular cleaning of ductwork are two ways you can minimize problems. Contact your HVAC or plumbing expert like one from Travers Plumbing & Heating Inc for a thorough assessment of your home and cooling system so you can reduce allergens indoors and help your children breathe easier.