With hot summer days just around the corner, many of us will soon be relying on our air conditioning units to keep our homes cool and comfortable.

But could your air conditioner be making you sick?

Without proper care and maintenance, dangerous mould and other irritants could be harboured inside, which can lead to potential health problems like congestion, wheezing and throat irritation.

Examine your air conditioner and be on the lookout for clusters of tiny black spots inside the air duct.

"Cleaning the louvers is a good first step, but if you see mold on them there’s a good chance that there’s more hiding inside the air conditioner. If that’s the case, you really want to consider buying a new one," said Paul Hope, Consumer Reports Home Editor.

Consumer Reports also recommends installing your air conditioner properly to avoid these issues in the first place. Ensure your window air conditioner is slightly tilted to the outside, which will prevent any water or condensation from entering inside, and growing mould.

The air conditioner’s side panels should be installed closely along the side of the window frame and use the weather stripping foam which comes with most air conditioners so outside air can’t creep in. Not only will this save energy, but it will keep allergens and pollen outside.

It's also a good idea to clean out the filter at the start of the summer season and then once a month afterwards.

“It will help the machine run efficiently and keep the air it circulates, clean,” said Hope.

Consumer Reports recommends the LG #LW1017ERSM model. It cools down rooms of about 350 to 650 square feet and retails for $379.