What Are The Biggest Health Risks Of Old AC Units?

Air condition is just one of those commodities that we are so used to, it’s almost impossible to imagine a hot, suffocating summer without it. However, old air conditioning units can threaten our health in a terrible, although subtle way. An old air conditioning system can be the causative for nose, eye or throat irritation, flu symptoms and even asthma attacks.

Here are some of the biggest health risks of old air conditioning units.

Spread of Microorganisms

Old air conditioning systems are the perfect place for fungi, bacteria and pollen to build up and lodge with time. Fungi differ in many aspects, not all produce infection, but some of the dangerous ones travel in the airflow of intake ducts. These fungi, such as aspergillus and histoplasma capsulatum, among others, produce respiratory irritation and allergic reactions. They can cause lung infections, and for people with respiratory issues, the inhalation of fungal spores can cause a fatal effects.

Workplace Illness

Many workplaces don’t comply with air hygiene requirements. Employees might notice musty, unpleasant odors or may feel hot and stuffy or even experience worse symptoms like mucous membrane irritation, skin irritation, fatigue, headache and breathing difficulties. All these produced by working in a place with an old air conditioning system. Many people experience these symptoms only while they are at work. Contaminants spread in the air through the air conditioner and recirculate in the working place, perpetuating and incrementing the harmful effects to our health.

Aggravate Respiratory Conditions

Old air conditioner units can be especially harmful for people with bronchitis, asthma, or any other respiratory issues. People with a previous condition are more susceptible to catch any lung infection or to have severe reaction to the bacteria, fungi (mold) or viruses spreading through the air duct.

Legionnaires’ Disease

Legionnaire’s disease is a type of pneumonia cased by a bacterium called Legionella, that can be found in the moist, warm environment of an old air conditioner. This is a serious disease that produces symptoms such as headache, nausea, weakness, fever, body aches and chest pain. If not treated, it can be fatal.


Most of us never open our windows, but still we want to breath a safe, fresh air. Contaminants may be all over, but we want to make sure that we are not perpetuating and contributing to their growth in our own home. An old air conditioning system can be a hazardous appliance accumulating all these hidden and almost invisible dangers.

It’s imperative to get rid of old air conditioners. Manufacturers nowadays, have improved their cleaning and filtering systems in new air conditioners. The filtering system in the air conditioner is the basic defense against fungal spores; it removes particles from the air current to keep the air conditioner clean and to keep the air we breath free of pollutants.

Of course, a good maintenance is necessary, as well as changing the filter when needed. Being comfortable in the hot season should not be a threat for our lives.

This article was written by Angelica F.  Angelica has worked for Facemyer AC for the past 6 months creating content for both their internal blog as well as their outreach campaigns.  She has been in the HVAC industry for over 3 years.