How Often Should I Change The Air Filter In My Air Conditioner?

How Often Should I Change The Air Filter In My Air Conditioning SystemHVAC experts and manufacturers recommend you change your air conditioner filter every month while you’re using the unit. This goes for window air conditioning units as well as central ac systems.

People know they need to change the air filter on their furnace or heater a few times a year. But, many don’t realize that the same filter also works for their central air when you have a forced-air system.

Changing that one is very easy. And, there are many benefits to changing the filter every month while using the AC.

In this article, we’ll review:

  • What Does An Air Conditioner Filter Do?

  • What Can Different Types Of  Air Filters Do?

  • How Do I Change An Air Conditioner Filter?

  • Air Conditioner Maintenance And Service In Havertown, PA

And, if your air conditioner needs service or maintenance, or if you’re in the market for a replacement or central air installation, call or email us here at John Cipollone. We’ve been serving homeowners and businesses in Havertown, Haverford, Ardmore, Wynnewood and other Main Line towns since 1953.

What Does An Air Conditioner Filter Do?

An air conditioner filter prevents dust, dirt and grime from building up on the coils of an air conditioner condenser. This way, the dust and debris doesn’t spread through your home. It also helps maintain your energy efficiency and air circulation.  It’s a huge first step in maintaining great indoor air quality.

How It Works

The coils on an air conditioner are the parts that actually cool the air. They’re located toward the outer portion of the unit, near the fins. The fins are the ridges you see when looking at the ac from the outside.

Since the fins are designed to help air flow through the system, they also attract dust and other particles in the air. Often, these specks will then reach the coils. When they build up here, they begin blocking air from moving correctly through the system.

As a result, your AC will not work nearly as well. Without enough air passing through, your home will get less of a cooling effect.

Next, the system will use more energy than before. It needs to work harder to get the same amount of cooling. It will stay on for more extended periods of time, using more electricity. If it’s a variable speed unit, it will also run at a higher level to push more cold air.

All this extra energy means you’ll pay more on your electric bill to use the system. And, it can cost even more down the road. Eventually, the system will wear out. The result of working harder and more often will cause it to break down much sooner than if it was running in good shape.

Related: The latest options for replacing your window air conditioners

This is why the filter makes a huge difference. It prevents those particles from gumming up the system. Instead, dust dirt and grime hit the filter and don’t go any further. When you replace the filter, you start fresh.

What Can Different Types Of  Air Filters Do?

Depending on what you need from your AC filter, you can choose from:

  • Block Dust, Dirt And Debris

  • Prevent Respiratory Problems

  • Get Rid Of Odors

  • Eliminate Bacteria, Viruses, And More

There are many different types of ac filters. They all block dust, grime and dirt from entering the system. However, some use different methods. Others can block much smaller particles. This feature, for instance, comes in handy for people with allergies.

Block Dust, Dirt And Debris

The most basic filters are made from fiberglass. These are the most common and least expensive, and they trap most larger particles.  You only need to change these once a month in most homes. If you have pets or a lot of dust, however, you can try changing them more often for better results.

These do a good job, but won’t prevent smaller particles such as dust mites or allergens like pollen from getting through.

Electrostatic filters are especially useful when dust is a problem. These attract charged particles using static electricity. This means they can grab smaller dust particles that can pass through other filters. They’re also reusable, as opposed to most other models. You just need to clean them out every month or so using water.

As far as cost: Basic air filters often come in packs of three for $10 or less. Electrostatic ones jump to around $20 per filter but are much stronger.

Prevent Respiratory Problems

Next are stronger filters that block smaller particles. If you suffer from seasonal allergies or respiratory problems including COPD or asthma, you’ll want to look into these. Most of these are pleated filters, which are very common for home HVAC systems.

At this point, you also want to start checking for MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) ratings. The higher the rating, the smaller particles they capture. Average filters go up to about MERV 4. Ones that start trapping the particles we’re talking about here run from MERV 5 to 13.

The scale goes to 16, but you can’t use those in your home. We’ll explain way later.

They cost a little more, starting at $4 or $5 each.

Get Rid Of Odors

Your filter can eliminate odors as well as dust, pollen, and other airborne contaminants. Activated charcoal filters trap VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that produce odors from cooking, animals, bathrooms, and other household sources. They even filter out tobacco smoke. However, they’re more expensive: Expect to pay around $10 or more for each one.

Eliminate Bacteria, Viruses, and More

You need a HEPA-rated filter to capture particles as small as bacteria or viruses. But, these are too strong for residential use. Every filter, even the weakest ones, reduce the airflow coming from your furnace. When a filter is too strong, your system can’t blow the air out anymore. Not only will you lose static pressure and air circulation. You’ll also damage your HVAC system.

In these cases, it’s time to consider an air purification package. For instance, you can pair a high-efficiency filter with additional hardware that makes up for the loss in airflow. Or, pair it with an air purifier that eradicates viruses and bacteria. These setups do it all: reduce allergens and odors, and eliminate everything from bacteria down to RNA viruses.

How Do I Change An Air Conditioner Filter?

Changing an air filter is quick and easy:

  1. Turn off your HVAC system to be safe.
  2. Locate the old air filter.
  3. Slide out the old filter.
  4. Line up the arrow on the new one.
  5. Slide in the new filter.

The old filter may be in one of a few places. You may have to take some time to locate it. But, after that, you’ll always know where it is.

Sometimes, it’s in the return air duct that pulls air from the home. It’s often Usually, the return duct is on or near the floor instead of higher up. Most times, though, it’s on the side or top of the furnace. Use a diagram or manual if you have it. Or, look it over carefully to see if you can spot it.

There’s usually nothing holding the filter in place. At most, you may have to unfasten a bracket, but nothing that requires any tools.

Which Way Does The Arrows Point On A Furnace Filter?

Finally, look for the arrow on your new filter. It should point in towards the furnace and away from the ductwork. The arrow tells you which direction air should flow through it. On yoru system, air will come from the ductwork and into the unit.

Air Conditioner Maintenance And Service In Havertown, PA

Changing the air filter is an easy, inexpensive, first step toward great air conditioner maintenance. To make sure the heating and cooling system in your Havertown, PA home works well for years to come, remember to have it serviced for routine maintenance twice a year: Once for the heater, and again for the AC. A tune-up costs less than $100, and can save you thousands in the long run Call or email John Cipollone to schedule your appointment today.

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