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Kilowatt Heating, Air Conditioning and Electrical Blog

Can an Air Conditioner Ever Become Dangerous?


If you use a gas furnace to heat your home, there is some potential for the furnace to become dangerous. Toxic gas and combustion dangers can occur if the furnace isn’t given proper regular care. It’s not difficult to avoid these hazards with a gas furnace, but it’s important to know about the possibilities.

What about air conditioning systems? Can an AC malfunction in a way that creates hazards for your home? The answer is yes, but they’re different from natural gas concerns. They occur with extremely old ACs, and the best way to avoid these problems is to make sure you don’t keep an air conditioner that’s long past its estimated service life, i.e. more than 15 years. 

We’ll take a look at how an old air conditioning system can create health concerns.

Toxic, outdated refrigerants

We talked about this in our last blog post: old air conditioning systems that still use R-22 refrigerant, which has been phased out of use. Along with all the other problems you may encounter with an AC that has this refrigerant in it, R-22 is toxic and leaks may put dangerous chemicals into the air. Add this to the many reasons to upgrade to a new AC that uses safer R-410A refrigerant. 

Electrical fire hazards

Any electrical device has the potential to create an electrical fire hazard—and your air conditioner uses more electricity than almost any appliance in your house. Most of the time, the AC won’t present any more danger of an electrical fire than, say, your computer. But when an air conditioner is extremely old, the chance increases of it overheating and the old wiring starting a fire.

Air Quality Dangers

This is probably the major danger an aging air conditioning system can create for a house: air that’s unhealthy to breathe. An air conditioner can become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria because the system will no longer effectively remove moisture to the outside. Harmful growths inside the AC will end up spreading through the air around the house. You may have heard of “sick building syndrome” before, and this is one cause of it. Regular maintenance will help prevent these problems from taking hold of a younger AC, but they can eventually overwhelm an old one.

Heatwave emergencies

Finally, an AC can become dangerous if it stops working in the middle of a heatwave. You know how brutal our summers can get, and for older people and young children, a major heatwave can be dangerous. An old air conditioner is at a higher risk of trapping you with a roasting home when the heat rises to dangerous levels. Maintenance helps prevent this, but it has limits when it comes to an ancient air conditioner.

To make sure you have safe air conditioning in Burbank, CA, trust our pros for repairs and replacement. If your current AC is more than 15 years old or uses R-22 refrigerant, call us to arrange for a new installation.

Call our certified service technicians 24/7 for exceptional customer service! Kilowatt Heating, Air Conditioning and Electrical serves Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.

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