How Cigarette Smoke Affects AC Filters and Indoor Air Quality

In this day and age, it’s common knowledge that cigarette smoke is extensively harmful to your health and the health of the people breathing your second-hand smoke. As if increased health risks and premature death aren’t enough, it also affects the efficacy of an air conditioner and the air quality in a smoker’s home.

Below, we provide you with an overview of how smoking can affect your HVAC system.

Call us at (321) 269-4565 or schedule HVAC preventative maintenance to improve your indoor air quality!

How Does Cigarette Smoke Affect AC Filters and Indoor Air Quality?

Cigarette smoke contains what are known as gaseous pollutants, which are small enough to be inhaled and stick to your lungs. Some of these harmful chemicals include carbon monoxide, ammonia, arsenic, benzene, and hydrogen cyanide. Out of the 250 chemicals commonly found in cigarettes, at least 70 of them are known to cause cancer. But these pollutants don’t just stick to your lungs – they linger in your home and make the air less healthy to breathe.

Do Air Conditioners Filter Cigarette Smoke? | Why You Shouldn’t Smoke in an Air Conditioned Area

No. While air conditioners have filters designed to improve indoor air quality, the amount of pollutants released by a cigarette is so substantial, it rapidly coats an AC filter with residue. Filters need to be changed at least once a month. And depending on how many cigarettes a day are smoked or how many smokers live in the home, you may need to change them even more often.

It’s important to note that just because the filters are filthy quicker, doesn’t mean that they are catching all the chemicals discharged by cigarettes. Some of these chemicals include arsenic (yes, as in, what you find in rat poison), ammonia, butane, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, lead, tar, and benzene (typically also found in rubber cement). In short, it is poison. An air filter can only do so much.

The best prevention to keep your home free and clear of secondhand smoke is simple: don’t smoke indoors. However, there are a few other ways that can help eliminate tobacco smoke contaminants from the air:

Options for Inside Smoking

If there is a need to smoke inside, a healthy alternative for you and anyone in the house is to use an electric cigarette. These do not produce the harmful smoke, and can provide the user with the needed nicotine. The water vapor that is produced from an e-cigarette will not stick to anything like regular smoke will. Your AC unit will run better, and you will not have to change filters as often.

5 Ways to Remove Cigarette Smoke From Your Home and Improve Indoor Air Quality

1. HEPA Filters for Your AC

There is no such thing as an AC filter for smokers. However, if you have no plans to quit smoking, you could reduce the pollution caused by cigarette smoke by installing a HEPA filter on your AC as well. The reason they’re so beneficial is that they trap air pollutants other air filters typically don’t catch. This includes some (albeit, not all) tobacco pollutants.

They’re costly and fragile, so do keep that in mind when installing them. Better yet, contact an HVAC professional to do it for you.

2. Houseplants to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Besides adding an element of freshness to your home decor, certain types of plants act as natural air filters when it comes to removing contaminants. NASA conducted a study to determine which plants are the best at absorbing air toxins, and discovered that philodendron, bamboo palm, peace lily and ficus (among other species) were especially good at removing air pollutants.

Here are the houseplants that will boost your IAQ:

How Cigarette Smoke Affects AC Filters and Indoor Air Quality

3. Invest in an Air Purifier for Your Home

There’s no way to sugar-coat this: Cigarette smoke is so toxic, that most air purifiers are unable to fully rid its harmful pollutants from the air. That said, a purifier will eliminate visible smoke and reduce odors, so it is superficially helpful.

If you choose to install an air purifier consider one with a HEPA filter. The acronym stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air, and they provide the highest level of pollutant filtration.

4. Open a Window

While it’s only a temporary fix, opening a window can help in displacing the tar-filled air, especially if you live in a remote area. Working similarly to a blood transfusion in the human body, a burst of fresh, outdoor air will replace stagnant air and the pollutants it might contain. Of course, if all you catch is a big breath of car exhaust every time you go outside, this might not be the best idea. The longer the windows are open, the better the results, just don’t run the AC while you’re doing this.

5. Schedule AC Maintenance Regularly

Regular preventive AC maintenance is important, whether a person is a smoker or not. However, if you enjoy lighting up, your air conditioner and air ducts will have a significantly higher amount of pollutants than the average home. This can make your air conditioner less efficient and reduce its lifespan.

By scheduling maintenance checks, an HVAC technician can foresee issues before they affect the mechanics of your AC system. They can also let you know if you should be changing your filters more often based on the amount of debris they find inside the unit.

AC Maintenance and Repair Service in Brevard County

At Colman Heating & Air, we can help you expand the life of your air conditioner and improve the quality of the air inside your home by providing preventive maintenance. We also have a 24/7 emergency line for when unexpected issues occur. If you’d like to consult with a certified technician about your air conditioner, give us a call.

24-HR Emergency Service (321) 269-4565 or schedule an appointment here.

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