Does hay fever strike every year when you first turn on the AC, and then plaque you all summer until it is time to switch the unit off in the fall? If so, you may think it is something about the cooled air itself that is triggering your allergies. While there could be something about the AC at the root of your suffering, the good news is that you aren't actually allergic to the air conditioner. The following tips can help you prevent allergens from being spread by your AC so you can enjoy a cool, sneeze-free summer.
Clear out the mold spores
One of the most common contaminants that lead to allergy problems with an AC is mold or mildew. Both the spores and the mold itself can thrive in an AC system due to the cool temperatures and moisture. Fortunately, you can solve this problem. An HVAC technician can disassemble your unit and clean out all traces of mold and mildew. They will then use a treatment that prevents future mold growth. In some cases, the mold could be in your vent system, which means you will also need to have a full duct cleaning involved. How often this needs to be done depends on your climate and the severity of your allergies, but every few years is typically sufficient.
Get a new filter
An AC system pulls in air from outside, cools it, then distributes it throughout your home. If pollen or other allergens are in the outdoor air, then they will be pumped into your home via the air conditioner. The answer here is a good filtration system. At the very least, you should be using HEPA filters, which are better at filtering out small particles like dust and pollen and replacing them monthly. If your allergies are severe, you may also want to have an air purifier hooked up to the AC. These purifiers provide even more filtration to cut down on the allergens entering your home.
Change the AC unit type
Air conditioning is a catch-all phrase for any appliance that cools the home. For allergy sufferers, central AC units probably are the best options because with a purifier attached, they become a relatively closed-off system. Window units are second best, but they can pump in allergens from outside. The worst option for allergy sufferers is likely the evaporative cooler (also known as a swamp cooler)—especially if they are sensitive to mold and mildew. These units must have water running through them at all times and they blow the air through moist pads to cool it—all a recipe for allergen dispersal in the home. Upgrade to a central unit if you think your swamp cooler is to blame.
Contact an air conditioning service in your area for more help.