How Often Should You Clean Your AC Filters?

It's important to clean or replace the filter(s) in your air conditioning system every month or two during the cooling season. If your air conditioner is in constant use, if it is subject to dusty conditions, or if you have pets with fur in the house, you may need to check the filter more often. To ensure fresh air is flowing, set a monthly reminder to check the AC filter status and clean or replace it if necessary. If you live in a warm climate, you should check the filter more often in summer; homeowners in cold climates may need more maintenance in winter.

Once you've determined the needs of your particular unit, create a maintenance program and stick to it so you can enjoy clean air all year round. The most common type of air conditioning filter is disposable. These filters last approximately three months before needing to be replaced with a new one. Disposable filters are easy to change, with minimal tools required.

Simply open the air cleaner cover, remove the old filter, attach the new one and close the cover. The downside of these filters is that they have a recurring cost, which can be expensive depending on the number of returns in your home and the quality of the filter you use. Forgetting to change a filter regularly is a big mistake that can cost you money and negatively affect your home's air quality. A clogged AC filter can shorten the life of your expensive air conditioning unit and allow pollen and dust to circulate throughout your home. Whether you choose a disposable or reusable air filter, changing the filter is essential for regular maintenance of your air conditioning unit. After learning about the processes and benefits of cleaning your air conditioner filters, you may still have questions.

Read on to learn more about proper filter maintenance. It's OK to run an air conditioner for a short time without a filter, but running it for hours without a filter will eventually cause serious damage to the air conditioning unit while reducing the air quality in your home. Twice a year, the mini-split unit must be serviced by an air conditioning service professional. Failure to provide proper maintenance service to the unit, both monthly and professional maintenance can result in loss of efficiency, safety issues, and damage or failure of a minisplit system. Air filters and oven filters should be checked at least once a month. If they are dirty, they should be replaced with a clean one.

To determine if the filter is dirty or clogged, remove it from the air handler and hold it close to a light source; if you can't see light through it, it's time for a change. Due to the unique filtration aspects of a mini-split, the air filter must be cleaned regularly. The longer it stays in place, the more dirt, dust and allergens will be trapped, clogging the filter and decreasing its efficiency. Removing a washable type air conditioner filter once a month (or twice during heavy use seasons) and evaluating it for cleaning or replacement should keep quality and energy use under control. The clogged filter will force the air conditioner to work harder to cool the air in the house, placing a burden on the air conditioning unit and increasing your utility bill. You may have seen a mini-split in a motel room, allowing each guest to control their own temperature. An air filter removes allergens, dust, and other contaminants which improves indoor air quality while providing relief to allergy sufferers and making it easier to breathe. Therefore, air filters should be cleaned regularly for health reasons as well as improving system efficiency and longevity.

These kits are usually made of plastic or metal frames; always follow instructions provided with the filter. Before checking the filter, make sure your system is turned off; you don't want unfiltered air circulating throughout your home while removing it. Most units house their air conditioning filters just behind the return vent near either ceiling or floor level. Avoid high utility bills and mechanical problems in future by keeping your air conditioner filter clean. According to Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America (AAFA), “indoor air quality is just as important as outdoor air quality”. No matter what HVAC system you have, each unit needs a properly tuned quality filter to keep indoor air quality clean and your unit running at peak efficiency. Permanent filters are more expensive upfront but they can save you money in long run because you can clean them instead of replacing them.

The first step when cleaning an AC filter is turning off the AC unit...

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