Do Air Conditioners Filter Smoke?

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Aside from making our homes cool and comfortable, you might wonder if air conditioners also filter out smoke? Very well, we will share with you in this post a well-researched answer to that question.

The purpose of an air conditioner is to cool the area but not to remove smoke inside a home. However, since technology keeps advancing, the air conditioner components have also increased in quality. In other words, some air conditioner filters with improved features can now slightly purify smoke.

Other than just cooling our homes, there is still an air conditioner can offer. And to find that out, we encourage you to keep reading. We have so much in our pockets to share with you!

An AC unit on the back of the house, Do Air Conditioners Filter Smoke?

Do Air Conditioners Filter Smoke?

An air conditioner doesn't work like an air purifier. Although some can filter smoke a little, don't try to use them as an air purifier. In addition, you should be responsible for using your air conditioner properly to avoid early deterioration.

A dirty AC unit in need of deep cleaning

The reasons why you should not use air conditioners for filtering smoke are:

  1. The particles of smoke are one of the smallest air impurities existing, and they demand adequate filtration.
  2. Air conditioning units utilize different types of filters.

Air conditioners contain filters to trap dust or particles from penetrating the air conditioning unit. And those filters are the ones that improve the air quality.

Additionally, it would be best to clean those filters once every month. But that will depend on how much impurities your air conditioner takes. The more pollutants, the more you have to clean them, usually every week.

Do Window Air Conditioner Filter Smoke?

An improvised window air conditioner unit

According to our research, experts say that window air conditioners are more effective in purifying the air from smoke than small size air conditioners with a single hose. They make the air safe to breathe.

Outside contaminants may enter your home through a window AC unit, but you know you are safe if the unit and windows are well-sealed.

Can Evaporative Air Conditioners Filter Out Smoke?

According to experts, evaporative air conditioners are not effective at removing smoke from the air. Additionally, these may even absorb smoke outdoors.

So, we highly suggest that using these air conditioners should be your last alternative, especially if you are in a region where bushfires often happen. Plus, if there is smoke outdoors, you should instantly switch off the air conditioner. 

Does A Reverse Cycle Air Conditioner Filter Smoke?

These types of air conditioners can effectively remove smoke from the air. The notable features of reverse cycle air conditioners are humidification and excellent air filtration from different particles and dust. Homeowners mostly use these air conditioners during winter and summer.

Do Air Conditioners Filter Bushfire or Wildfire Smoke?

Wild bush fire near a subdivision

Some air conditioners, especially the small ones, can not filter the smallest particles in bushfires. However, a big one can do the job. If a bushfire is happening, the government usually asks its people to head over to a building with a cooling tower or oversized air conditioners because they can somehow purify bushfire smoke.

Is it okay to still run an air conditioner during a bushfire or wildfire?

People are most likely to ask such queries during or even before fire season. But one thing to keep noting is that operating an air conditioner while there are fire and smoke outdoors cannot damage the unit.

As mentioned above, the air intake also comes indoors and not outdoors. So, rest assured that you can run the air conditioners safely when there is an existing wildfire or bushfire.

Do Air Conditioners Bring Air From Outside?

Air conditioning units do not fetch air from outdoors to indoors. Instead, they take the air inside your room and drive it out. However, that will depend on what mode you have set your air conditioner, such as vent mode or recirculate.

Effects of Cigarette Smoke On Your Air Conditioners

As mentioned above, air conditioners can not purify smoke, including smoke from cigarettes. Cigarettes can degrade indoor air quality by spreading impurities such as arsenic, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, and carbon monoxide. These gases can merge and produce a thick layer that can obstruct your filters, making them hard to remove and reducing the air quality of your room.

If you notice, the smell of cigarette smoke can linger inside your home for several months or over a year; even a person smokes only outdoors. The pollutants stick to their hair, skin, and clothes, which brings the smell inside the house.

Cigarette smoke also reduces the lifespan of air filters. We recommend incorporating an air purifier system to improve your indoor air quality.

How To Protect Air Conditioners From Smoke?

Protecting your air conditioning unit from smoke is simple, with little effort to complete the job.

Cigarette Smoke

If the primary source of the smoke is a cigarette, all you have to do is stop the person smoking inside a room while your air conditioner is running, or do not smoke inside. However, some people can't bear to smoke outside.

If that is the case, you can let them smoke but let the door or window open. That is to let the fresh outdoor air displace the cigarettes smoke mixing with the indoor air.

Wildfire Smoke

Furthermore, if the smoke comes from a wildfire and comes in a massive amount, you should incorporate a heavy-duty air purifier. That will help you reduce and get rid of the smoke that enters your room.

It would be best to close the outdoor damper as soon as possible if your air conditioner is running. Also, make sure that you tightly seal the gap between your air conditioner and window. That is to avoid the smoke from infiltrating the air conditioning unit.

Effects Of Breathing In Smoke 

Smoke can affect you and your breathing significantly. You'll know that you are having too much smoke intake if you are:

  • having difficulty in breathing
  • coughing continuously
  • wheezing
  • having asthma attacks
  • feeling itchy throat
  • having a stinging sensation in the eyes
  • experiencing sudden tiredness
  • runny nose
  • aching sinuses
  • having increased heart rate
  • experiencing chest pain
  • headaches and migraines

How To Protect Yourself From The Exposure Of Outdoor Smoke?

Some regions experience wildfires. And to ensure keeping you and your family away from wildfire smoke, you should follow the recommendations below:

  1. Do not try to open the windows. Keep your doors closed. And remember always to close the vents from the outside when there is a wildfire.
  2. Keep your pets with you. Go to a smoke-free room. 
  3. If you notice that the indoor air is getting worse, we suggest you evacuate the area.
  4. Add an air cleaner or a portable air filter.
  5. If there is a power interruption and you notice it takes too long, don't close any windows or doors. This situation can result in carbon monoxide poisoning.

Air Conditioner Vs. Air Purifier

Filtering smoke from the air is what an air purifier is excellent. Air conditioners function to cool your indoor air, while an air purifier filters the air indoors to produce fresh and healthy air.

A humidifier placed in the middle of the living area

Many air purifiers that contain HEPA filters are widely available on the market. Those HEPA filters can effectively filter air pollutant particles between 0.3 to 10 microns.

Air purifiers with HEPA filters can effectively clear any smell, such as:

  • pet odor
  • pet dander
  • pollen
  • cigarette smoke
  • dust or dust mites
  • allergens
  • toxins
  • molds

Wrap It All Up

An AC unit on the back of the house

We all know that the purpose of air conditioners is to cool the indoor air and filtering smoke is not their thing.  Suppose you want to have cool and healthy air inside your home. In that case, we suggest you incorporate air purifiers with HEPA filters to achieve that, especially if you live in a region where wildfire or bushfire happens often. 

If you find this article helpful, we suggest checking the posts below for further reading and information.

Rheem Air Conditioner Making Loud Noise – What To Do?

Cold Air Coming From Vents [When The Heat Is On Or Off]

How Often Should You Drain A Portable Air Conditioner?

Leave a Reply