Why does AC window unit give me the sniffles?

I am a college student and I have an air conditioning window unit in my room. It gives me really bad sniffles (for lack of a better word) Why is this? What can be done to stop it?

Try a humidifier. Window AC units can really dry out the air, which can lead to “the sniffles”.

When was the last time you cleaned the mold out of the bottom of the case? What with water dripping down there all the time, you can get a pretty thick carpet of allergenic spore formers.

Like many students, I rent. This means I have no idea when the last time the unit was cleaned. Now I am scared to turn it on.

How do I clean it? I am going to be living in sweat until I find out how.

When Papa Zappa and I were newlyweds, we lived in an apartment with a window air conditioner. After a few months I had violent allergic attacks (sneezing, sinuses filled up, runny nose… thoroughly miserable) within 20 minutes of turning it on.

The problem turned out to be (as former poster said) mold contamination. My beloved insisted that you could simply wash and reuse the filters, rather than replacing them. So they were never really filtering out the nasties.

Ultimately I forced him to replace the filters and IIRC things got better. They’re cheap enough, I’d give that a try.

Turn off the air conditioner before you do any of this. You should be able to remove the plastic casing on the front of the unit (mine just snaps off). Clean both this part and the filter thoroughly, as well as any internal parts you can reach. I normally clean the plastic with warm water and a bit of bleach and use Q-tips to clean out the smaller crevices.

For my air conditioner, I clean it before I put it away for the winter and at least once during the summer, and this keeps the mold growth down considerably. It can definitely get really gross in there, though.

There’s also a mold reservoir in the bottom of the AC case. To clean it you have to remove the AC unit itself from the window mount. Usually it’ll just slide out (Caution, HEAVY!), but sometimes there’s a ground wire (green) connecting the unit to the case.

If you are allergic to the mold, you might want to see if you can get someone else to clean it. Like your landlord, or a starving student desperate for cash. At least take antihistamines in advance and wear a mask. Cleaning it will stir up a lot of mold.

Be sure to unplug it too. I’ve heard some horror stories in my time (construction/company that sold/serviced AC units).

I think the landlord could probably be convinced to take care of this for you, on the grounds that it’s a “health hazard” (some molds are toxic, etc).

If that doesn’t work out, and you cant manage to take it apart to clean, try emptying a can or two of lysol into it’s air intake.

Come to think of it, there might even be specialized cleaners for AC units.