Is it safe to use air-con units amid volcanic ashfall?
MANILA, Philippines – Is it safe to use air conditioning units even if there is ash fall from volcanic eruptions, like the ash from the recent Taal Volcano eruption?
An air conditioner-producing company said that it depends on the intensity of the ashfall. According to the Concepcion Industrial Corporation (CIC), there is no problem using units during light ashfall, as such appliances use the air inside rooms to emit cool air.
But this practice is not recommended during heavy ashfall.
“It is all right to use air conditioners (split type/ window air conditioners) during LIGHT ash fall. The air your AC unit uses comes from inside your home, not from the outdoors, so it will not affect your air conditioning unit,” CIC said in their Facebook post on Monday.
“However, during HEAVY ash fall, please REFRAIN from using your AC units. Continued use during HEAVY ash fall will clog your AC unit’s outdoor condenser coil, which will result [in] the overheating of the compressor and the overall air conditioning system,” they added.
People have asked whether air-con units were safe to use even with the volcanic ash from Taal Volcano reaching Metro Manila and other Central and Northern Luzon provinces. The company said that air-con units were actually built to withstand light ashfall.
But the company also reminded air-con owners that units should be cleaned after the ash fall, regardless of whether it is heavy or light.
“After the ash fall subsides, it is good practice to have your air conditioner/s cleaned immediately, regardless of the ash fall is light or heavy. If a service team is not available, you can take note of the following tips to clean your air conditioners at home,” CIC noted.
CIC said that owners can remove dust and ash using vacuum cleaners, although extra care is needed when cleaning and wetting the external part of a split-type air-conditioning unit, as wet coils and circuit boards may lead to an electrical fault.
“Don’t forget to seal your rooms to prevent ash from entering your house. Remember that air conditioners recycle the air inside your home,” CIC explained. “Please stay safe.”
A phreatic eruption was recorded in Taal Volcano last Sunday, forcing Phivolcs to raise Alert Level 4 and ordering people inside the 17-kilometer radius to evacuate.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said that the Alert Level 4 for Taal Volcano is characterized by “intense unrest, continuing seismic swarms, including harmonic tremor and low-frequency earthquakes”, which may mean that a “hazardous eruption is possible within days”