Can Your Air Conditioner Make You Sick?

Have you ever woken up with a sniffly nose or scratchy throat and wondered if your air conditioning system could’ve been the cause of that? There is some truth to that – air conditioners can make you sick BUT only if they’re not maintained properly.

Let’s take a look at how an air conditioning system could pose health risks to you, what are the signs and what you can do to prevent it.

Can Air Conditioners Really Make You Sick?

The honest truth is that yes, they can. An air conditioner could be making you unwell if any of the following circumstances are true:

  • The air conditioner is not cleaned or properly maintained
  • The air conditioner is malfunctioning
  • The temperature and dryness settings of your air conditioner is not suitable for you and the climate you’re in

Otherwise, if you’ve kept your air conditioner properly maintained you shouldn’t have to worry too much about your AC posing any health risks to you or your family.

Common Illnesses Attributed To Air Conditioners


In some cases, you might find yourself sneezing or sniffling right after you’ve turned on the air conditioner. Could you be allergic to the air conditioner itself? Well…it’s more likely that you’re allergic to the contaminants that the air conditioning system is circulating. 

These contaminants could include any of the following:

  • Pollen 
  • Dust mites
  • Pet dander
  • Mould and mildew
  • Bacteria and viruses

When the air conditioning system circulates these contaminants, they can sometimes cause allergic reactions. This is especially the case for people who have respiratory issues, such as asthma or sinuses, and are more sensitive to these airborne contaminants.

Coughs And Colds

If you’ve experienced dry coughs or have gotten a cold from your air conditioner, it could be because of the dryness or the fact that it is circulating bacteria around your room.

Air conditioners have a drying effect on the air indoors, which can sometimes cause respiratory issues. This can lead to dry coughs and even colds. 

There’s a few ways to reduce the dryness in your air conditioner room:

  • Get a humidifier

Humidifiers are specifically designed to add moisture to the atmosphere within a room. It’s probably the best solution to mitigating the dryness caused by air conditioners. 

You’ll just need to ensure that you keep your humidifier clean and regularly change the water to prevent bacteria from growing within the device. 

  • Place plants around the room

Plants contribute to the moisture in a room, which would help mitigate the dryness caused by an air conditioner. You’ll just need to properly maintain the plants to avoid them from drying out as well.

  • Get a water fountain

Water fountains work as a decorative element to your room as well as adding to the moisture in the area. Because the water is constantly flowing and being passed through a filter, it is a more hygienic option as well.

Taking care of the dryness in the room is just one part of the problem. If your home environment is dusty and contains contaminants or bacteria, turning on the air conditioner will circulate these dirty particles and could make you sick. You could develop a cold or cough as a result from inhaling these contaminants. 

What Are Some Signs Of An AC Malfunctioning?

To prevent bouts of illness, you’ll need to look out for signs of a dirty or malfunctioning air conditioner. Oftentimes, these issues with AC’s are the cause of hay fever or other respiratory illnesses. 

The signs of a faulty AC could be any of the following:

  • Not circulating cool or warm air as desired
  • Odd smells coming from the air conditioner
  • Sudden increases in your electricity bills
  • Strange noises coming from your AC

Not Circulating Cool/ Warm Air As Desired

If your AC is experiencing poor airflow and not cooling or heating as intended, there could be an issue with the air filters or compressor. Clogged air filters can restrict airflow while a faulty compressor could mean that the entire system isn’t working properly as that is the ‘heart’ of the air conditioner. 

Odd Smells

If you’ve detected strange smells coming from your air conditioning unit, it could indicate that there’s some mould that has grown within the air conditioning unit. If this is the case, you’ll need to make sure that you remove it immediately as mould can be hazardous to your health. 

Increase In Bills

If your air conditioner isn’t working as efficiently as it used to, it could be because one or more parts are malfunctioning. This could include a faulty motor, duct leaks or just an aged system that is in need of being replaced

Strange Noises

If you’re hearing things coming from your air conditioning system, it could be a sign that something is wrong. Air conditioners should have a low humming sound but anything louder than that is a sign of a faulty fan motor or that parts have broken loose and have started to rattle around the ducts or fan.

How Do You Prevent Getting Sick From Your AC?

Clean Your AC 

This tip is fairly straightforward and applies for most of your home as well. Keeping a clean and well maintained air conditioning system would be great for the longevity of your unit and for your respiratory health. 

Clean your air filters regularly, about every 3-4 months, to ensure that you’re breathing in clean air when you switch on your system. 

Get It Serviced 

Getting your air conditioning system regularly serviced is another important thing to do to prevent getting sick from it. Your air conditioner should be serviced at least once every year but if you’re using it for both heating and cooling functions, it would be good to get it checked twice a year.

A service usually includes a technician checking to see if all parts are functioning properly and if the settings are accurate. Air filters, coils and other crucial parts are thoroughly cleaned or replaced if needed.

Keep Colds At Bay

Get your air conditioner regularly cleaned and serviced and breathe easy knowing that it won’t be making you sick anytime soon. Book a service appointment with our Gaschill technicians to ensure that your air conditioner is working properly and stay healthy.