Your air conditioner works hard keeping you and your family cool all through our broiling Toronto summers. In return, you need to show it a little love, by changing the filter regularly.
A clean filter not only keeps your A/C running efficiently; it reduces energy costs to run the system — up to as much as 15% savings. Most critically, it also plays a major role in safeguarding your home’s indoor air quality … keeping the air you breathe healthy and wholesome.
Causes Of A Dirty Air Conditioner Filter
Your air conditioner filter has an important job: to protect the sensitive components of the HVAC unit from undue wear and tear. The filter does this by cleaning contaminants, dust, and debris from the hot air which flows into the unit.
But if you don’t clean the filter regularly, that dust and debris will build up over time. They’ll cause the filter to become dirty and clogged, restrict airflow, and eventually interfere with the HVAC system’s function. (For example, you might find the system’s run time becomes longer than what you were used to.)
A second cause of a dirty filter is dampness, whether due to excessively high relative humidity inside the house, or condensation within the unit. Left unresolved, this problem will eventually cause the filter to mold – which is really bad news for your family’s health, since heating and cooling systems can quickly spread toxic mold spores all over your home.
How Often To Change Your A/C Filter
Before you turn on your air conditioner for the first time this season, check the filter. If it’s still dirty from those last warm days of fall, take a minute to change it.
After that, change your filter at least once every three months.
You’ll need to change it more often (perhaps as frequently as once a month) if any of these conditions apply to your home:
o The manufacturer’s directions recommend more frequent filter changes.
o Your filter has a low MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating.
o A family member suffers from respiratory illness, such as allergies.
o You’re a pet owner. Cats and dogs shed fur and dander.
o Someone in your household smokes indoors.
o There’s construction in progress on your street, meaning more dust in the air.
o Your home is equipped with a working fireplace.
Change the filter immediately if you see that it’s torn or otherwise damaged. A damaged filter is useless for cleaning the air.
And finally, always check the air filter if you notice a smell of mold in the air or you’re trying to troubleshoot some type of malfunction, such as the A/C not blowing cold air. Changing the filter just might be the quick fix you need.
Should You Clean Or Replace Your Air Conditioner Filter?
The decision whether to clean or replace your air conditioner filter depends on which type you have. Whatever you do, be sure to switch off the power before you start!
A. Clean A Permanent Filter
Permanent air conditioner filters are solidly manufactured, with fiberglass frames. They are designed to be cleaned and reused. Although initially they’re a little pricey, you won’t have to repeatedly shell out for new filters … and you’ll be doing your bit for the environment.
How To Clean Your Air Conditioner Filter?
- Open the service panel and remove the filter.
- Brush off dust into a trash can.
- Rinse the filter with running water.
- Air-dry filter thoroughly before putting it back in its place.
B. Replace A Disposable Filter
Disposable air conditioner filters are designed for one-time use only. Because they’re inexpensive, it’s no big deal to replace them. TIP: Stock up on a few spares so you always have a replacement filter handy.
How To Replace Your Air Conditioner Filter?
- Open the panel and slide out the old filter.
- Replace with a new filter of the same type. You’ll see an arrow on the filter; position it so the arrow points toward the air handler.
Get the Best Indoor Air Quality In Your Home
When you change your air conditioner filter on the right schedule, you’re taking a crucial first step to improve your indoor air quality. Now what else can you do?
- Consider upgrading the type of filter you use to one with a higher MERV rating.
- Fine-tune relative humidity indoors, which ideally should be between 30 and 50%. You might need a humidifier or dehumidifier.
- Have your ductwork cleaned. HVAC ducts that are full of dust or even mildew negatively impact air quality. (Of course with ductless A/C, you don’t need to worry about this.)
- Talk to us about installing an air purifier.