Today’s blog post is a little different from some of our previous posts in that it is not entirely appliance related. Legionnaires Disease, caused by a bacteria that survives in water and water systems, has been in the news lately in relation to air conditioner units, most recently Evaporative Condensers and Cooling Towers in HVAC systems in large buildings such as office complexes.
In light of recent events, today we’re going to share some information with you on what you can do to keep you and your unit safe with a few recommendations from OSHA and highlight some basic maintenance tips.
“Air conditioning units without humidifiers have not been identified as sources of LDB.”
This is good news for owners of residential air conditioner units. The way that the Legionella bacteria spreads is through aerosolized or the aspiration of contaminated water, basically water vapor or mist getting into the lungs. So long as your window or central air unit doesn’t have a humidifier and is properly maintained, it won’t be a source of LDB. However, some other common sources of outbreaks have been hot tubs, whirlpool spas, misters, and humidifiers.
It should also be noted that Legionnaires cannot be spread from person to person, and most people exposed to the bacteria will not contract it. However, certain people are at a higher risk. This includes individuals over the age of 50, with weak immune systems, chronic lung disease, and/or smokers. If you start to experience pneumonia like symptoms, contact your physician and seek treatment immediately.
Maintaining your Air Conditioning Unit
So what can you do to help prevent the spreading of bacteria? First off, make sure that your ducts and air returns are dry and that you don’t have water collecting on or in the unit system. This is especially important when it comes to central air units. If there’s no water, there’s nowhere for the bacteria to grow so try to check for stagnant or collecting water regularly.
Be sure to keep up with regular cleaning and maintenance. Drain out sumps and condenser pans, check for leaks, and perform regular cleaning including changing the unit’s air filter (if you missed our blog about that, click here).
Not only will this help to prevent bacteria from accumulating, but it will also ensure that your air conditioner continues to run properly. You can always contact a service technician to inspect your unit to ensure it is running properly if you’re ever unsure of how to do something.
If you have a commercial HVAC system and are looking for more information on how to help prevent Legionnaire’s visit this link from the Department of Labor and OSHA website. You can also find more information such as symptoms and treatments here.