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Myth vs. Fact: Is My HVAC Making Me Sick?

Published by Luke Weiden

Everyone has heard the old wives’ tale that cautions you will catch pneumonia if you go outside with wet hair. There are also a lot of myths about whether your heating and cooling system can cause you to get sick. Are they true?

Heating & Air Conditioning Myths VS. Facts

Is it really your HVAC system that is causing you to feel sick or could it be something else? Here are a few common myths.

    1. Can the “forced air” from my heating system make me sick?

This is a trick question. While forced air in general cannot make you sick, the air your HVAC system circulates throughout your home can. Old furnace filters can make you feel ill if you haven’t changed them in a while and they are clogged with contaminants such as dust, dirt, pet dander, and yes, even airborne bacteria.

This is why it is so important to keep your air filters replaced every 1-3 months (depending on the type of filter, the number of pets in your home, and whether you have family members who suffer from allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues.) and to schedule routine HVAC maintenance on your unit at least once a year.

    1. Can an air conditioner make you sick through the spread of an illness or disease?

Much like the question above, the air conditioner itself cannot create an illness nor disease. It can, however, recirculate anything that is clogging the air filter such as allergens and bacteria, blowing those particles back into your home. Those particles can cause you to get sick.

That being said, bacteria growth from a dirty air filter has a slight chance of causing Legionnaires’ disease, a type of pneumonia that can be deadly in certain situations, however, the chances of this happening are very, very low. Keeping up on air filter changes and regular HVAC maintenance are two very important preventative measures to help stop this from happening.

    1. Will I get sick if I run the air conditioner while I sleep?

No, enjoying the cool temperatures from your AC while you sleep will not make you sick. Pathogens, not cold air, make people sick. Once again, you will want to make sure you stay up to date on air filter changes and yearly HVAC maintenance.

Warning Signs Your HVAC System Is Making You Sick

All myths aside, there is a serious instance where your heating and cooling system really can be making you sick. When this happens, it’s an emergency situation needs to be addressed immediately. If you regularly experience any of the following symptoms in your home, then you might need to consider getting your air ducts, heating and air conditioning system inspected:

  • Dizziness
  • Feeling Lightheaded
  • Headaches
  • Mood Changes
  • Nosebleeds
  • Reduced Appetite
  • Breathing Difficulties
  • Fatigue or Drowsiness
  • Flu-Like Symptoms
  • Eye, Nose and Throat Irritation
  • Nausea
  • Chest Pains
  • Ringing In The Ears

Gas leaks cause a reduction to the amount of oxygen in the air and can cause these symptoms. Other signs you might have a gas leak in your home include:

  • Smell Of Rotten Eggs Or Sulfur
  • Unexpected Spike In Gas Bill
  • White Or Dust Cloud Near Gas Line
  • Hissing Or Whistling Sounds Near Gas Line
  • Bubbles In Puddles In Your Yard
  • Dead Houseplants
  • Damaged Gas Pipe

If you notice any of these signs, gather your family and pets, leave your home, and call an HVAC expert immediately. Do not return to the home until it has been declared safe by a heating and cooling technician.

Setting The Right Temperature For Your Home

To take the guesswork out of setting a comfortable temperature for your home each season, our experts have put together the following graphic:

An infographic illustrates the most efficient and comfortable temperatures you should set your thermostat to by season.

Dependable HVAC Services In Chicago

If you are experiencing any of the warning signs of a gas leak or want to go ahead and schedule annual maintenance for your HVAC system, give Deljo a call. Deljo Heating & Cooling has been providing quality HVAC services for the families in the Chicago area since 1922.

Our dedicated heating and cooling professionals strive to deliver exceptional work accompanied by our top-notch customer service with every home we visit. Give Deljo a call to schedule an appointment with one of our certified HVAC experts today.