PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Window air conditioners are a godsend during those hot and humid days of summer, but the same appliance that cools you down could also make you sick.
From dust to mold, ACs can spread a lot more than just cool air. However, there are a few simple things you can do to prevent that.
"Without proper care and maintenance, mold can actually grow on the inside which has the potential to lead to health problems like wheezing, congestion and throat irritation," said Paul Hope, Consumer Reports Home Editor.
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, but if you see mold on them there's a good chance that there's more hiding inside the air conditioner. If that's the case, you really want to consider buying a new one," said Hope.
Consumer Reports recommends model SPT #WA-12FMS1 for larger rooms. It costs about $340. And for mid-sized rooms consider Kenmore model #77080 for $270.
Next, install your AC properly. Make sure your window air conditioner is slightly tilted to the outside, that way any condensation or rain water won't end up on the inside, which could also cause a mold problem.
Install the air conditioner's side panels snugly against the side of the window frame and use the weather stripping foam that comes with most ACs so that outside air can't creep in. This will save energy and keep pollen and other allergens outside.
Consumer Reports said it's also a good idea to clean the filter on your AC at the start of the season and then once a month after that.
"It will help the machine run efficiently and keep the air it circulates, clean," said Hope.
Consumer Reports also advises you avoid buying a window unit with a vent, a small opening that lets in air from the outside, especially if you have poor air quality in your neighborhood.
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Consumer Reports: Is your air conditioner making you sick?