We are officially in the dog days of summer. It is almost too hot to even go outside anymore! These higher temperatures mean your air conditioner is running longer and harder throughout the day. With all that extra work, your filter is going to get clogged faster than normal.
Proper filter maintenance is crucial to your unit! Filters are designed to pull particles out of the air while letting the air pass through easily. As the filter fills up, the space for air to pass through is reduced, making your air conditioner work harder to suck air through the filter. This extra work will reduce its lifecycle and it is much more wallet friendly to change an air filter once a month (more in summer and winter months when your unit runs almost constantly) than it is to replace your entire air conditioner!
Changing your filter regularly is also good for your health. The filter pulls dust, pet hair, smoke and other irritants out of the air. These pollutants can aggravate your allergies or asthma if you have them, and, according to The American Lung Association, they can even cause cancer! I know it seems like everything causes cancer these days, but if something as simple as changing your A/C filter can help prevent it, why not do it?
There are two basic types of filters: reusable and disposable. Disposable filters do cost less than reusable ones, but the cost difference isn't too great, and you don't have to replace a reusable filter every month. However, you do have to clean a reusable filter every month. Either way you choose to go, your air filter needs monthly maintenance.
Don't know how to change or wash your filter? Here are step by step instructions!
Change your filter:
1. Turn off your system.
2. The filter will be located close to the intake-outtake blower (in most homes it's close to your control box). There may be a door or panel that swings or lifts open; open it and remove the filter.
3. Before you install your new filter look around the edge to find an arrow. This arrow tells you the direction of the filter. Make sure the arrow points to the blower and is not installed backwards (check the direction of your old filter before you take it out or just as you remove it if you're not sure which way it goes in)
4. Lastly, turn your system back on and make sure it's functioning properly.
Clean your filter:
1. Again, turn off your system, locate and remove your filter.
2. You will want to clean your filter outside, if possible. Use a brush to remove caked on debris.
3. Vacuum the filter with your hose attachment.
4. Wash the filter with running water. Using a spray attachment on your water hose works best. Just remember to spray in the opposite direction as the air flows. In other words, spray from back to front (the debris is on the front of the filter, spraying from back to front will more efficiently clean your filter).
5. Let your filter air dry completely before replacing.
6. Turn your system on and make sure it's functioning properly.
Your return vent (the vent that houses the filter) is usually located close to the thermostat. If your thermostat is on a staircase, the return vent is usually on the slanted ceiling above the stairs. Otherwise, the vent is usually located close to the floor under the thermostat or close to or on the ceiling above the thermostat. If you cannot find your return vent or just need help changing your filter, call your AC contractor.