Smoking And Air Conditioners: What Homeowners Need To Know

While world health organizations continue to encourage people to give up smoking, millions of Americans still find it hard to kick the habit. Smoking indoors presents a health hazard to anyone who has to breathe in the smoke. What's more, this habit can take its toll on the home, including your air conditioning system. Learn how smoking can affect your air conditioner, and find out why these systems cannot protect people from second-hand smoke.

Effect of cigarette smoke on air conditioners

Secondhand tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals. Many of these chemicals are toxic, and scientists know that around 70 of them can cause cancer in humans. In fact, experts estimate that 2.5 million people in the United States have died from second-hand smoke exposure since the mid 1960s.

The chemical cocktail in cigarette smoke also takes its toll on your home, including your air conditioner. Air conditioning systems extract air through a filter that captures dust and dirt. Cigarette smoke can quickly clog these filters through the increased pollutants in the air. If you smoke indoors, you'll need to change your filters more frequently than you would in a smoke-free home.

If you don't change the filter often enough, the system can even break down. A dirty, blocked filter stops the air flowing normally through your ducts. Over time, the system has to work harder to keep the air flowing. Eventually, the system could overheat or break down, leaving you with a hefty repair bill.

If you do find yourself in need of repairs, contact a professional service, such as Wright Total Indoor Comfort.

Air conditioners and clean air

Some homeowners believe that air conditioning systems can cut the health risks from second-hand smoke. In fact, this isn't true. Research shows that even the latest air conditioning systems are not sophisticated enough to adequately remove the chemicals that second-hand smoke leaves in the air.

In 2006, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a report confirming that air conditioning and ventilation systems cannot protect people from second-hand smoke in the workplace. Indeed, even separating smokers from non-smokers in conjunction with a ventilation system could not protect people. The Surgeon General even went on to note that a ventilation system could actually worsen the problem, because air conditioning could actually distribute polluted air around the workplace.

The same principle applies at home. If you smoke in one room, your air conditioning can distribute harmful pollutants around the home, including into rooms where your children may sleep or play. As such, your air conditioner could actually make the problem of second-hand smoke exposure worse.

The solution

Experts agree that the only solution to second-hand smoke exposure is to stop smoking indoors. A smoke-free environment is the only way you can guarantee that other people won't breathe in the pollutants you create when you smoke.

Smoke-free zones are increasingly popular in American homes. In fact, one study showed that around 80 percent of Americans now insist that people cannot smoke in their homes, with similar rules in their cars. That aside, this proportion only applies to non-smokers. Only 48 percent of smokers ban smoking in their homes, and only 27 percent of smokers operate a similar rule in their cars.

Health groups continue to campaign for smoke-free homes and cars. In fact, federal legislation may soon ban people from smoking at in some apartment complexes, as well as in offices and public buildings. It's important to remember that even if you don't allow smoking in your apartment, secondhand smoke from your neighbors could still get into your home through the ventilation system. As such, it's likely that an indoor smoking ban will eventually affect millions of Americans in their homes.

Cigarette smoke can damage your air conditioning system, and a ventilation system will not help clean the air in your home. For more advice about repairing or replacing a smoke-damaged system, talk to your local air conditioning supplier.