Can You Get Carbon Monoxide Poisoning From An Air Conditioner?

Carbon Monoxide poisoning in homes is a horror tale we all have heard of. This colorless and odorless killer gas is not easily detected and by the time someone does realize that something is wrong with the air they are breathing in, it might very well be too late.

At least 500 lives are lost to carbon monoxide poisoning every year and even more people have to be hospitalized for the same. That is probably why homeowners with gas fuelled devices are always so wary of carbon monoxide emissions inside their homes.

Because the gas is colorless and odorless it is almost next to impossible to detect if you have a leak inside your house. Unfortunately in most cases, it is noticed only when the symptoms start appearing such as nausea, headache, fatigue, chest contractions, and memory loss. If you have these symptoms and especially memory loss, make haste and get yourself a medical consultation.

But what causes carbon monoxide poisoning in homes? A popular myth in the market is that air conditioning is one of the culprits. But is there any basis for this claim? Let us find out.

Can You Get Carbon Monoxide Poisoning From An Air Conditioner
Owner Turns On Air Conditioner / DimaBerlin /

Can You Get Carbon Monoxide Poisoning From An Air Conditioner?

The simple answer to this question is – No. You cannot get carbon monoxide poisoning from an air conditioner.

Carbon monoxide is a gas without any color or smell and it is formed when there is burning or combustion involved, which is only possible in gas-fuelled devices such as furnaces, wood stoves, burners, and the like. But an AC or an air conditioner does not run this risk as it is not fuel-powered and there is no combustion of fuel required to power an AC.

An air conditioning unit, as you very well know, runs on electricity and the myth that an AC may be causing carbon monoxide poisoning is simply groundless and formed out of a misunderstanding about how an AC works.

However, all of the above applied only to individual air conditioning units and not central heating systems like HVAC. Your HVAC may be leaking carbon monoxide due to a compromised furnace and if you suspect that this is the case then the best course of action is to immediately ventilate ad vacate the said space and turn off the system.

Can Air Conditioners Produce Carbon Monoxide?

Can Air Conditioners Produce Carbon Monoxide
Air Conditioner on a Wall/ Cynoclub /

Yet again, to answer the question directly- no air conditioners cannot produce carbon monoxide.

As already mentioned, carbon monoxide is produced when fuel is burnt and an AC does not need any fuel to power itself. You might be wondering if older models of air conditioners that sit windows are bringers of carbon monoxide or not but rest assured, if the device in question does not need fuel even if the purpose is to heat, then the chances of CO emission from there are non-existent.

If however, your doubts persist, then the easiest way to find out for once and all is to go for an expert opinion and fit your AC with a carbon monoxide detector. The only problem with these detectors is that they cannot detect low levels of CO and the alarm goes off only when the CO level rises significantly. This is why it is advised to immediately go outdoors if the alarm goes off or if someone shows signs of Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

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Wrapping Up

Thus to conclude precisely, you are not at risk of being exposed to carbon monoxide from an AC unit, but HVAC units still pose the possibility.

If you are living in an apartment or condo and there are ventilators on the walls then you need to take into consideration whether or not your neighbors have a fuel-powered device. You might be under an incorrect impression that your AC unit is emitting the toxic gas but it may very well be the ventilator that is bringing in the gas from the neighboring apartment.

If you suspect such a situation then you must take immediate measures to stop it because even low levels of carbon monoxide exposure can be injurious to health and if you or someone else shows the symptoms of poisoning, then immediate medical consultation is imperative.

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