Is your window A/C making you sick?

Window A/C units can harbor mold, other irritants

SAN ANTONIO – A window air conditioner can help you keep your cool during the hot, humid summer. But it may also be spreading more than cold air. It may be harboring mold and other irritants. 

“Without proper care and maintenance, mold can grow on the inside, which has the potential to lead to health problems like wheezing, congestion, and throat irritation,” said Consumer Reports’ home editor Paul Hope.

Examine your air conditioner and be on the lookout for clusters of tiny black spots along the air duct. Cleaning the louvers is a good first step, and if you see mold on them there’s a good chance there’s more hiding inside the air conditioner.

“If that’s the case, you should consider buying a new one,” Hope said. 

Consumer Reports recommends the SPT model No. WA-12FMS1 for larger rooms. It costs about $340. And for midsized rooms, CR recommends the Kenmore model No. 77080 for $270. 

Next, installation is important. Make  sure your window air conditioner is slightly tilted to the outside so that condensation and rainwater won’t end up on the inside the room, which could also cause a mold problem. 

Install the air conditioner’s side panels snugly against the sides of the window frame, and use the weather-stripping foam that comes with most air conditioners  so that outside air can’t creep in. This will save energy and keep pollen and other allergens outside. 

Consumer Reports says it’s also a good idea to clean the filter of your A/C at the start of the season and then once a month after that. It will help the appliance run efficiently and keep the air it circulates clean.

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