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 Mold and Bacteria in the Air-Conditioning
 
     
  The second biggest problem with heating and air conditioning systems is they are not clean3. In a sense, air-conditioners are like huge de-humidifiers. Water condenses inside the air-conditioner when it is running. This is normal and not a problem if the system is maintained. There is a drain pan to collect the water and a plastic drain pipe. Slime mold and bacteria can grow in air conditioning drain pans if not maintained or draining properly.  
     
  Sometimes the drain pipe gets clogged or it was installed sloping up instead of down. When that happens, standing water collects than supports microbes to grow. The air conditioning fan can suck water onto the air filters causing mold to grow on them.  
     
 

Buddy is a good dog. He lives in Arizona where it can be 115 degrees in the summer. Like most dogs outside on a hot summer day he likes to dig himself a hole to lie in. One day Buddy dug a hole next to the house unknowingly covering the plastic drain pipe from the air-conditioning unit. His owner soon became sick and had to live in a tent outside, not knowing what was causing the problem. Endotoxins from gram-negative bacteria that was proliferating in the standing water of the air conditioning pan were being supplied into the air in the home. Fortunately the local allergy store put her in contact with an environmental consultant. An investigation led to digging up the drain pipe outside and she was able to move back indoors.

 
     
  If you have air-conditioning system make sure the water is draining properly. There should not be any standing water. If there is a sump pump make sure itís working properly. Inspect the air conditioning system in the summer at the peak of the cooling season when any problems will be most evident. Clean the pan and the air-conditioning coils once per year.  
     
  Problems are sometimes caused by oversized air-conditioning systems. Some buildings have such powerful systems that the blowers in them literally suck the water off the cooling coils before it can fall into the drain pan. This water is sucked onto air filters and into duct work. Donít oversize the air-conditioning system thinking you will be cooler. A property sized air- system actually provides more comfort than one sized too large. In a properly sized system, the fan stays on longer in order to achieve the desired temperature. In a system sized too large, the fan is one for only a short period of time during which it may get cold indoors but the system doesnít run long enough to dehumidify.  
     
 
 
 
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Revised: July 05, 2017.

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