Reasons Your HVAC System Gives You a Headache

If you’re prone to constant headaches, it might feel like they come out of nowhere. However, a closer look can reveal a surprising culprit. Many people have discovered that they get a headache whenever they turn on their HVAC system. If this keeps happening to you, you don’t have to choose between being comfortable at home or having a clear head. By discovering the root cause of these headaches, you can address the problem and start enjoying your HVAC system again.

You’re Dehydrated

One of the most common culprits behind a headache is just dehydration. Air conditioners and heaters are meant to dehumidify your home. They pull humidity out of the air as they run, so they help prevent moisture and mold growth indoors. Unfortunately, if your HVAC system is running for a while, all of this dehumidifying can be a little excessive. On days when your HVAC runs all day, it can end up quite dry indoors.

Of course, even the driest indoor air usually isn’t enough to give a properly hydrated person a headache. However, if you were already a little dehydrated in the first place, then inhaling a bunch of dry air can be the final straw. In cases where you suspect dehydration is behind your headache, drinking a big glass of water can be very helpful.

For a more permanent fix, try using a humidifier. A humidifier is a helpful way to add a little extra humidity back to the air on days your HVAC system makes it too dry inside. There are all sorts of humidifiers ranging from small units that you plug into an outlet to built-in units that attach to your duct system. The right style will just depend on your budget and preferences.

The Air Is Giving You a Bit of Brain Freeze

Did you know that inhaling a bunch of ice cream isn’t the only way to get a brain freeze? Any time you’re exposed to sudden, cold temperatures, your body can react surprisingly. Especially if you’re stepping from the hot outdoors to a chilly room, you can get a headache. This happens because the cold temperature is stimulating your trigeminal nerve. When this nerve is overstimulated, it can cause blood vessels to constrict, which can trigger a headache.

If you’re one of the unlucky people who have this physical reaction to cold air, there are a few things you can do. Start by bumping up your thermostat’s temperature a little bit. Just a few degrees can make a big difference. Another solution is to shift away from a vent to keep cold air from blowing directly on your face. You can even tilt your vent in a different direction to keep cold air from moving in your direction. Finally, it can be helpful to make sure you’re breathing through your nose instead of your mouth. This helps keep cold air away from your cold-sensitive nerves.

Your HVAC System Is Infested With Mold

Are you fine with other HVAC systems but find that your specific home system is behind a lot of your headaches? In cases where you’re fine outside the house but get headaches when you’re home for a while, it’s often worthwhile to check for mold. There are a variety of mold types that can grow in dark, damp places. Even though you might not see mold anywhere else in your house, it can exist in your ductwork or even inside of your HVAC blower.

When you have mold in your HVAC system, the spores can break off and travel through the air. Every time your AC unit turns on, you might be getting a bunch of mold spores blown into your face. The exact health problems you’ll face will probably depend on the type of mold in your system. Some molds just cause a mild headache every now and then. Others can cause chronic health conditions. The most common sign of mold exposure besides a headache is breathing issues. You might wake up with a stuffy nose, sneeze regularly, or have coughing fits. In severe cases, mold exposure can lead to asthma attacks, pneumonia, or bronchitis.

In addition to health problems, mold also tends to cause a musty smell, and you might notice patches of discoloration around vents where mold is growing. If you suspect that you have mold in your HVAC system, you need to get it examined and cleaned as soon as possible. An indoor air quality expert can remove existing mold. They can also install an air purifier to help kill any future mold that flows through your HVAC system.

Noises Are Triggering Migraines

If you’re susceptible to migraines, there’s a chance that your HVAC system might be causing headaches. For some people, constant loud noises can be enough to give them a headache. If this is the reason behind your headache, you’ll probably notice that it starts right after your HVAC system kicks on and turns into a very sharp pain that may include queasiness and sensitivity to light.

No functional HVAC system should be loud enough to cause a migraine. Even if you’re sitting right by the noisy outdoor unit, it should still be fairly quiet. Constant, loud sounds usually mean that some of the components of your HVAC system are banging against each other. It can also mean that there’s a foreign object stuck in the unit or that grime has clogged part of your appliance. Many people assume that their HVAC system is fine as long as it still heats and cools the house. However, any noises loud enough to give you a headache are a sign you need to get it checked.

You Have a Carbon Monoxide Leak

One of the most concerning causes of an HVAC-related headache is a carbon monoxide leak. This odorless, colorless, toxic gas is a combustion byproduct, so it can cause problems when you’re using a furnace, generator, grill, wood-burning fire, or car near the house. Of course, a properly working HVAC system will never let carbon monoxide into a residence. However, if your ventilation breaks and you have some sort of duct leakage that ends up pulling carbon monoxide into your vents, you could run into a problem.

People who have carbon monoxide poisoning often experience dull headaches, dizziness, and nausea. In higher doses, it causes mental confusion, memory loss, shortness of breath, blurred vision, and vomiting. Carbon monoxide poisoning can even be fatal or cause brain damage, so it’s important to get your air tested if you suspect any carbon monoxide leaks in your home.

As you can see, it’s important to get your HVAC system examined if it keeps giving you a headache. In some cases, it might be relatively harmless, but sometimes, HVAC-related headaches can be a sign of a major issue. Express Plumbing Heating & Air can check out your system and recommend ways to solve your headaches. In addition to our HVAC services, we provide a wide range of other services in the Boise area. Our team can help with plumbing, drains, sewers, and more. Call Express Plumbing Heating & Air today to find out more about our services.

Brad Jordan

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