Can You Paint With the Air Conditioner On?

Painting a room is an excellent way to improve its aesthetic appeal. However, the painting process is not always pleasant, especially for a DIY enthusiast. Apart from the time and energy you have to put into prepping, planning, and painting, you must find ways to keep your lungs clear during the entire process.

Paints emit toxic fumes. The toxicity is due to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other additives, which have short- and long-term effects on the body. Can you paint with the air conditioner on to reduce the impact of paint fumes?

Many people seem to think so. However, as the top AC service contractors in Wilmette, IL, we know it’s never that straightforward.


When people think about painting with the air conditioner on, it’s usually about staying comfortable during the painting process and keeping the air fresh to avoid inhaling fumes. Painting indoors on a hot summer afternoon is no fun.

However, turning on the air conditioner in this scenario isn’t the right thing to do.

First, you can only dilute paint fumes by ensuring a steady stream of fresh outdoor air into the space. Most single-room air conditioning systems only cool the air in a room. They don’t introduce fresh air into the space.

Central air conditioning systems can bring fresh air into the room, but they present another challenge. Running such an air conditioner for the duration of the painting project is not the most energy-efficient approach.

VOCs can accumulate in your air filters and air ducts if you run the air conditioner while painting. As a result, your home’s indoor air can remain tainted long after you have completed the painting project.

So, can you paint with the air conditioner on? Technically, you can, but should you? In this case, the downsides are too risky to ignore.


There are other, more effective ways to ensure effective ventilation and reduce paint fumes in a room while painting. Here are a few we recommend:

Embrace Cross-ventilation

Cross-ventilation is one of the best ways to let lots of fresh air into your home to dilute paint fumes. You can achieve this by opening up all the windows in the room.

Bring in two box fans and place them in front of two opposite, outside-facing windows to direct airflow from each fan outside.

The fans will draw a steady flow of fresh outdoor air into the room while removing paint vapors. Cross-ventilation will also reduce dry time significantly.

Turn On the Exhaust Fans in Your Kitchen and Bathrooms

If you have exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathrooms, you should turn them on. They can help bring in even more fresh air to the room.

However, you should check the fans to ensure they transfer vented air outdoors and not into the attic. If the fans transfer paint fumes to the attic, the fumes will spread down into the rooms beneath.

Remember, inhaling the fumes can cause various health problems, including eye and nose irritation, headaches, loss of coordination, nausea, and more.

Clear Out or Cover Any Absorbent Materials

Furniture and curtains can trap VOCs if you leave them open while painting. They will counter your efforts to reduce paint fumes within the space.

It’s best to take them outside before embarking on any major repainting project. If you can’t remove these materials, you can cover them with a plastic sheet.

Choose Low-fume Paints

A good way to reduce paint fumes in a room is to choose paints with low or no VOCs for indoor use. Choose water-based or latex paints when painting indoor spaces; they won’t give off as many fumes as oil-based paints.

However, keep in mind that water-based paints are not free of chemical compounds. You still need to ventilate the space during and after painting.


We hope you found this answer to the question “Can you paint with the air conditioner on?” informative. If you need to discuss further on this topic, reach out to our experts. We are always happy to educate our customers and guide them toward better choices.

Whether you’re exploring different ways to improve ventilation in your home while painting or looking to find out more about the different types of HVAC systems, we can help.

Call the A Custom Services team in Chicago, IL, at (773) 593-8175 to schedule an appointment today.

Similar Posts