air conditioner cleaning

Legionnaires Lowdown: Preventing an Outbreak


The recent outbreak of legionnaires disease in the Sydney CBD is a timely reminder of the potential dangers lurking in your air-conditioning unit. This harmful form of bacterial pneumonia has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, hospitalising a number of people as authorities investigate and test dozens of air-conditioning cooling towers in the city. Although legionnaires are highly unlikely to occur in home air-conditioning systems, it’s better to be on the safe side and have your unit serviced regularly.

The Lungs

We like to refer to the air-conditioning system as the ‘lungs’ of your building. Taking in outside air, filtering it, circulating it and then expelling part of it back into the outside world. The quality of air you breathe at home or at work depends on the quality and cleanliness of your Air Conditioning and how well it’s been serviced and maintained.

Legionnaires Lowdown

Legionnaires are not spread from person to person, the bacteria is usually spread by water systems like air-conditioning units, cooling towers, pools, baths and showers. While there’s a small chance that you may contract legionnaires through your home hot water, most outbreaks tend to occur in bigger buildings that share large water systems. Legionnaires are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets which are infected by the bacteria. The water could come from a shower, tap or water from an industrial heating and cooling system.

Preventing Outbreak

The main culprits of air conditioning contamination are poor maintenance and a badly designed system. The most effective way to stop the spread of Legionnaires through air-conditioning starts by installing a system that relies on air-cooled refrigerant. Because refrigerant doesn’t rely on a water-based system, it avoids spreading mist which could be infected. If your building uses a water-based system, the key to keeping contamination at bay is to regularly clean and service the unit to avoid any build-up of bacteria.

Regularly maintaining your air-conditioning and hot water units is the first step in eliminating the risk of infection. The cost of a faulty air conditioner extends beyond the unit itself, affecting productivity, decreasing air quality and spreading harmful airborne bacteria. If it’s been awhile since your air conditioning or HVAC was last serviced, talk to a Service Today technician about booking an inspection.