Keeping your air cool and clean this summer

Consumer Watch

Air conditioners are a godsend during the hot and humid days of summer. And if you don’t have central air conditioning, you know the drill. You have to haul your heavy window air conditioner out of storage, and it could be harboring mold and other irritants. Without proper care and maintenance, mold can grow on the inside, which has the potential to lead to health problems like wheezing, congestion, and throat irritation.

Examine your air conditioner and be on the lookout for clusters of tiny black spots along the air duct. Cleaning the louvers is a good first step, and if you see mold on them there’s a good chance there’s more hiding inside the air conditioner. If that’s the case, you should consider buying a new one.

Consumer Reports recommends the SPT model # WA-12FMS1 for larger rooms. It costs about $340. And for midsized rooms, consider the Kenmore model # 77080 for $270.

Next, install your A/C properly! Make sure your window air conditioner is slightly tilted to the outside so that condensation and rainwater won’t end up on the inside the room, which could also cause a mold problem.

Install the air conditioner’s side panels snugly against the sides of the windowframe, and use the weather-stripping foam that comes with most A/Cs so that outside air can’t creep in. This will save energy and keep pollen and other allergens outside.

Consumer Reports says it’s also a good idea to clean the filter of your A/C at the start of the season and then once a month after that. It will help the appliance run efficiently and keep the air it circulates clean.

If you have a central A/C unit, Consumer Reports has some simple DIY tips to keep it running cool and clean all summer long.

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