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Do I Need to Worry about Portable Air Conditioner Carbon Monoxide?

Every homeowner has a laundry list of concerns regarding what to worry about in their home. Aside from ensuring that all your utilities are correctly working, you also need to ensure that your appliances remain in working condition, especially your most common ones such as your refrigerator, oven, furnace, and air conditioner. For many people who own houses that lack central air or prefer only to cool the rooms they regularly use, portable air conditioners become the defacto air conditioner for daily use during the warmer months.

While these are generally easier to work around than your major appliances, people nevertheless have significant questions regarding their safety and effective operation. Today, we’ll address the question of whether your portable air conditioner is a carbon monoxide producer.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

living room equipped with portable ac unit and sofaThis question is a reasonable one to consider, especially considering the risks associated with carbon monoxide. There are a few essential facts to review to gain a proper understanding of the gas:

  • Carbon monoxide is a hazardous gas for humans to ingest. It is odorless and colorless, so its non-irritating nature makes it particularly challenging to detect without special equipment. Unlike a gas leak from your natural gas supply, you are unlikely to tell that it is happening without an alarm. 
  • Carbon monoxide tricks your lungs and blood into thinking that it is oxygen. The result of this error is that your body will receive the carbon monoxide, which then replaces oxygen in your blood, resulting in your body not receiving the most vital part of the air we breathe. As your body loses oxygen during a large exposure to carbon monoxide, you become lightheaded and pass out. If no one removes you to safety at that point, it is fatal. 
  • The most frequent source of carbon monoxide is incompletely burning fossil fuels such as natural gas. When you use a machine that processes this gas but is faulty, then it may put out carbon monoxide in varying quantities.

Carbon monoxide is incredibly dangerous. The above risks are the primary reasons that many homeowners check for carbon monoxide leaks during their pre-purchase home inspections, as well as why you should seriously consider purchasing a carbon monoxide detector for your home.

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Does Your Portable Air Conditioner Make Carbon Monoxide?

The good news is that your portable air conditioner doesn’t make carbon monoxide in any normal situation. That being said, there are a few unusual or uncommon situations whereby your air conditioner may be involved in bringing carbon monoxide into your home:

  • Many portable air conditioners are electric-powered. Due to the nature of the energy powering your air conditioner, it cannot produce carbon monoxide. However, there are a few portable air conditioner models that can operate on natural gas, which can produce carbon monoxide if malfunctioning. 
  • Even if you have an electric portable air conditioner, you may be using a power source that itself could generate carbon monoxide. If you use a gas-powered generator for appliances in an RV or temporary building at a construction site, then it is helpful to have a carbon monoxide detector nearby to remain safe. 
  • Additionally, other sources of carbon monoxide, such as car exhaust, may be present near your air conditioners intake. While your portable air conditioner may not itself produce the carbon monoxide, it can easily bring it into your home through its proper cooling function if there is a source near the intake.

If you use portable air conditioners, you don’t need to worry about the devices themselves producing carbon monoxide. Nevertheless, remain alert regarding the above situations that may apply. It’s always best to be aware of the risk of carbon monoxide exposure if you have an air conditioner near a potential source of the gas.

Ensuring Your Portable Air Conditioner Is Carbon Monoxide Free

Most people who use portable air conditioners shouldn’t have carbon monoxide worries. To reiterate the above, carbon monoxide is a deadly and largely undetectable gas that can prove fatal if it shows up in the wrong circumstances. While electrical devices cannot produce the gas on their own, they may be complicit in bringing carbon monoxide into your home or vehicle, depending on the ultimate fuel source you’re using. As long as you remain aware of the tips and warnings covered above, then you can stay safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you have any questions regarding carbon monoxide and your home’s HVAC system, then licensed contractors can help you address these questions. There’s no such thing as being too safe, and it’s best to ensure that your system is working correctly. We recommend coupling that preventive maintenance with an affordable carbon monoxide detector so that your family remains safe in every circumstance.