How Your Faulty Air Conditioner Can Cause Medical Problems

If your air conditioner is malfunctioning, it could potentially cause new medical problems or worsen existing health conditions. To make sure that your unit is in good working condition, you should always schedule routine maintenance appointments with an air conditioning contractor so that you can learn more about this topic and that small problems don't progress into costly repairs or lead to dangerous health situations. Here are three ways in which a faulty air conditioner can damage your health:

Fungal Infection

If mold happens to infiltrate your duct work or vents, every time your central air conditioner is turned on, spores may get blown into the air in your home. Since mold is a fungus, people who inhale the spores may be at risk for developing a fungal infection of the upper or lower respiratory tracts.

It can be difficult to differentiate between fungal, bacterial and viral infections, so if you develop the following symptoms, see your doctor to determine the cause and to get the appropriate treatment:

  • Productive cough
  • Nasal congestion
  • Chest congestion
  • Fever
  • Facial pressure
  • General malaise
  • Body aches
  • Colored mucus

If your doctor determines that you have a fungal infection, an oral anti-fungal medication will be prescribed, however, if your infection is found to be bacterial in nature, antibiotics will be recommended. Viral infections do not respond to either anti-fungal or antibiotic medications, so if your symptoms are caused by a virus, your doctor will simply recommend that you rest, drink plenty of fluids and take an over-the-counter fever/pain reducer.

To determine if you have mold growing in your duct work or vents, a heating and cooling professional will need to inspect the system, and either clean the affected areas or install new duct work if the mold infestation is extensive.


If the air filter in your heating and cooling system is not replaced or cleaned on a regular basis, small particles of debris can get circulated into the air. If you or someone in your family has asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, circulating particulate can trigger an episode of wheezing.

Respiratory irritants such as dust or other airborne particles can lead to a "twitchy airway," or even cause your airway to constrict. When this occurs, you may have trouble breathing because air cannot be exchanged effectively.

If you suffer from asthma or other respiratory conditions, it is important that you regularly change the air filter in your furnance. If you don't know how or are otherwise to unable to change it, make an appointment with a service technician to do it for you.

Carbon Monoxide

Faulty heating and cooling systems can lead to the release of dangerous carbon monoxide into the air you breath. This gas is odorless and tasteless, and while you may remain asymptomatic when exposed to minute amounts of carbon monoxide, even small amounts can be detrimental to your health. According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Loss of consciousness

A carbon monoxide detector can alert you to the release of this harmful gas, and if your detector emits an alert tone, seek fresh air as soon as possible and call the fire department to evaluate the safety of your home. Regular air conditioning maintenance can help reduce the risk a of carbon monoxide leak and subsequent health dangers.

Schedule an appointment with an air conditioning contractor or heating and cooling expert to check your system to make sure it is in proper working condition. During the service call, the technician can also check the furnace filter to determine if it needs cleaning or replacing. Routine maintenance not only helps reduce the risk of a medical problem, it can also help extend the life of your unit.