Is there supposed to be styrofoam in my air conditioner

Are you installing your Air conditioner and wondering if there was supposed to be Styrofoam in my air conditioner? This may be a concern of many people, who might consider Styrofoam an extra piece of foam.

Before you also think differently, let us inform, Styrofoam in the air ducts of your Air conditioner is a part of the entire system and has a significant role to play. Therefore, it is placed on purpose.

The purpose of Styrofoam in the air conditioner is for insulation and also to avoid moisture build-up. Both of these functions are significant to ensure efficient performance by your window AC!

If you are not sure what is the difference between a window and wall air conditioner, please refer to our previous guide for more information.

Should there be Styrofoam in my air conditioner

Air ducts of nearly every air conditioner have EPS. The EPS is white Expanded Polystyrene, or as you may call it Styrofoam, and resembles the foam utilized in insulated cups and coolers.

To answer your question, yes, it is customary to find Styrofoam in your AC, as it is a part of the AC’s components and must not be taken away.  If the removal appears necessary, then you may call a Service Technician.

Usually, the Styrofoam is replaced instead of being removed because they’re traditionally mold resistant. For thermal insulation, Styrofoam usually has low density because of its structure designed in a specific way. Along with efficient thermal insulation, the design of Styrofoam allows light to get through in minimal quantities.

Why does my Air conditioner have Styrofoam in it

Insulation plays an essential role in the air conditioning system. It is easier for the air conditioner to work better in a more significant space in a considerably shorter time because of the attic’s insulation.

The Styrofoam performs the role of insulating the attic in the air ducts of the air conditioner. It also helps against moisture and condensation. This is why your air conditioners come with Styrofoam in them.

Since, styrofoam is a lightweight, easy to replace material and provides insulation of up to 70. Therefore, most of the AC manufacturers uses Styrofoam as an insulating material for their AC’s.

What is Styrofoam made of

A petroleum-based material, Styrene, is the major component used in Styrofoam manufacturing. The procedure for making Styrofoam involves polymerization of Styrene to process it into polystyrene.

After refining Styrene, an agent called hydrofluorocarbon is applied to polystyrene. Expansion and extrusion of the mixture then take place to form a board of foam underneath compression. This foam board is the white, squeaky final product called Styrofoam found in your air conditioner’s air ducts.

However, it is also commonly believed that the foam inside of the air conditioner’s vent is not actually pure Styrofoam but is polystyrene only instead. Polystyrene is expanded and mixed with other plastics, additives, and colorants to form a foam that you see in the air conditioners.

Is Styrofoam toxic to humans

Well, it is a rare case that someone would chew a Styrofoam piece out of their air conditioner air duct. If a situation like this occurs, you should know that the human body does not digest Styrofoam. In the process of ingestion, Styrofoam is not broken down and can cause choking and gagging.

Even while swallowing, there may be discomfort due to it being trapped in the body’s esophagus. It is also not safe for intense, microwave-level heat temperatures. These high temperatures can break down Styrofoam, and toxic chemicals are released.

Do not burn Styrofoam in any condition, as this is highly toxic to do so. Even a tiny chunk of Styrofoam burning can expose fumes that are highly intoxicating and harmful.

Because of these properties, it is significant to look out for children. And also, do not burn a Styrofoam piece after you have replaced your air duct or air conditioner with a new one. In case of these unfortunate events occurring, immediately contact emergency help.

Should I remove the Styrofoam from my air conditioner

As mentioned earlier, Styrofoam is an essential part of your air condition system. Because of this, there is no need to remove it. Styrofoam in the air duct of the AC is performing an essential function of thermal insulation. However, there may be the case where Styrofoam needs a replacement.

Still, you can replace it with another one but not remove it altogether. This replacement is also a job of an expert to do. You should contact a Serice Technician to do so. You may also notice a specific smell coming off of the AC’S Styrofoam, especially when it’s new.

This smell will go away with time. If not, you can contact an expert instead of removing it. Removing it would be an interference in the AC’s insulation system.

Air conditioner without Styrofoam inside

There is usually Styrofoam in every window air conditioner for insulation. The ones, however, that do not have one are ventless and typically portable. The air out of this air conditioner is different from the others and can also build up ice.

One reason why these types of air conditioners are used is to prevent mold from growing. For their installation, there is no need for a window. Regardless, it is significant for an air conditioner to have Styrofoam for insulation. It is essential for filling up the spaces between the air conditioner and the windowpane.

Can mold be grown on Styrofoam in an Air conditioner

Styrofoam is water-resistant naturally. Usually, for mold to grow, moist conditions are necessary, and Styrofoam does not trap water. In only challenging situations, you will find mold growing on the Styrofoam’s surface.

This is because this insulating foam is naturally resistant to decay. There are also no organic materials in Styrofoam. These organic materials are usually food for mold and allow for it to grow. Because of their absence in Styrofoam, it’s unable to grow mold. Usually, natural disasters like floods affect the insulation of the Styrofoam.

Due to the weakening of the insulating system, it may develop mold, which can result from dirt like organic material building upon its surface or excessive moisture. To avoid this, you should ensure that the AC’s Styrofoam is not contaminated with water for a long time.

How to clean Styrofoam inside Ac unit

In case your Styrofoam ends up contaminating or growing mold, then you can easily remove it. You can easily scrub it off using a cloth or brush. Scrubbing with cloth and brush, however, will not do the job alone. In a quarter cup of house bleach, add a gallon of water.

Either soak the cloth into this mixture, scrub with a brush or directly spray it onto the Styrofoam. This is a suitable procedure for removing the mold. Do not now place the Styrofoam back. Instead, let it dry in sunlight for some time.

There is one precaution you must take while following this procedure. Avoid using chemical cleaners on Styrofoam to clean the mold. Styrofoam can melt when contacted with chemical cleaners.

This might not happen right away but after a certain period, which is even dangerous. This is why You should mix a particular and proper ratio of bleach with water. After scrubbing foam with this solution, do not forget to use a clean cloth to wipe it off.

  • Use dishwashing detergent

If the bleaching procedure appears risky, then dishwashing detergent can also do the job for you. Mold on Styrofoam is not very resistant, and for this, instead of bleach, you can also use dishwashing detergent to produce similar results under safety. In a bucket full of water, add the dishwashing detergent. Soak the Styrofoam in the detergent-water mixture for some time. After that, scrub the mold off of the Styrofoam easily with a brush or cloth.

You may also read our previous how to get rid of dirty sock syndrome in ac in-depth guide if still struggling to remove mold from your window AC.

Can Styrofoam be washed in the dishwasher

The tiny crevices of Styrofoam are impossible to clean! Because of this, it can contaminate microorganisms like bacteria in Styrofoam. Even though the dishwasher has heat that may kill these microorganisms, this heat is not enough.

As a result, a suitable method should be used to scrub with bleach or detergent water solution, as stated above. These methods are more effective than cleaning the Styrofoam in a dishwasher as you may reach the tiny impossible crevices with the help of the brushing and scrubbing technique and completely clean your Styrofoam.

Is it safe to reuse Styrofoam

We have mentioned ways to clean the Styrofoam, it is usually recommended to reuse Styrofoam.

Styrofoam is not suitable for the surroundings. Moreover, it’s a toxic material for the environment, same as plastic and doesn’t decompose easily in nature.

On top of that, it can also not be recycled in any way. This is why the reuse of it is highly encouraged. So, to do this, make sure you clean the Styrofoam properly before reusing it to save the environment. However, still, we’ll recommend replacing it after 1-2 years to get optimal performance from your AC.

We also strongly recommend you learn how to seal wall air conditioner for winter and how to clean window type aircon without removing.

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