Have you ever wondered what nifty tips and tricks you can implement at home to save on energy consumption and to lower costs? One way you can help is by cleaning the air filter of your AC as often as possible. Every air conditioning unit comes with an air filter inside. After some time, it can affect how your AC unit works if it’s not maintained.
Not only does the ignored AC increase your monthly bills as the unit struggles to function, but you also end up breathing unclean air all day because the air filter is responsible for clearing out dirt, microbes, and other particles from the air.
Once the unit misses maintenance for some time, the air filter gets clogged and requires more effort to work, increasing energy consumption. When you opt to clean it often, you save money and have clean, fresh air to breathe.
How to Clean the Air Filter
Most modern units have air filters that you can detach, wash, and reuse. Below are the simple steps you need to follow when washing your AC’s filters.
Turn Off the Air Conditioning Unit
You can never detach the air filter from the AC if it’s still running, so as uncomfortable as it might get, you must shut your AC unit off for some time. Check your unit for an off button, and press it. If the unit doesn’t have such a control, unplug it. Indoor air conditioners only require the off button.
Use the Manual to Locate the Air Filter
Since you’re not a professional, it might be tricky to locate the air filter in your unit. Fortunately, after shutting off the unit, you can fetch the manual to check the air filter’s location. Most AC units are pretty straightforward. For instance, you’ll often locate the air filter on the intake slot for horizontal units.
All in all, the design of the air conditioning unit determines the location of the air filter. Whereas some have slots, others have metallic grates that you need to unscrew to get to it. If you no longer have the manual that came with the unit or if the unit was in your home when you moved in, most appliance manuals can be found for free online.
Vacuum Clean the Air Filter
Upon removing the air filter, head outdoors or on your balcony before you begin cleaning. You can use your fingers to remove debris stuck to the filter or in the unit itself at first. When you’re done with that, use a vacuum cleaner on a medium setting to remove all the dust and other air filter particles. As you do so, take extra care since the filter is delicate and can easily break.
Place the Filter in Lukewarm Water
Once you finish vacuuming out the dust and other particles, fill a basin with lukewarm water. Next, add a mild detergent, and submerge the air filter in the mixture. Ensure that the water covers the entire air filter.
Naturally, you will start to note dirt coming off the air filter. Do not use a brush on the filter; just move it around the water for 15 minutes. As you do so, you can use your fingers to remove more dirt. For stubborn parts, you can add some baking soda.
Use a Sanitizing Mixture
While air filters remove dust and debris from the air, they also play a role in getting rid of microbes, so you need to sanitize the filter after washing it. Take a small bowl, and mix vinegar and water in equal parts. Soak the air filter in the mixture to kill all harmful germs and microbes that accumulated over time. Be sure to use a container that’s deep enough to submerge the air filter during this process.
Allow It to Dry Completely
A clean filter requires about 10 hours to completely dry. Once you remove it from the warm soapy water, place it on a surface with natural sunlight to let it dry. The filter will take a long time to dry since there are many components. Avoid using cloths and paper towels to try to speed up the process.
Clean the Air Conditioning Unit
As the air filter dries in the sunlight, take the opportunity to clean other parts of the AC. For example, you can clean the fins and metal grating, which impact your unit’s performance.
Clean cautiously to avoid bending, breaking, or dislodging crucial parts of the unit. After the time elapses, you can place the filter back and turn on the AC.
Benefits of Cleaning the Air Filter
Once the air filter is back in the unit, you’ll start to notice some changes in its performance. There are many benefits that you can expect after cleaning your unit.
First, the unit’s performance will improve, which is essential on hot summer days. Clogged air filters make the AC struggle to perform and can cause constant breaking down. By cleaning the air filter often, you make the unit more durable.
The second is that you will save money. You won’t need as much energy to power your AC as when you use a clean air filter. When they’re full of dirt and debris, air filters require more energy to function, which drives up your electricity bill.
The third benefit is that you will save on the overall cost since you don’t need to hire a professional frequently to fix the unit.
Finally, you will notice better air quality in your room or home. Air filters remove any debris, particles, and microbes from the air. A clean filter improves air quality and benefits your general health.
When to Clean the Air Filter in your AC
Timing is crucial if you want to derive the four benefits listed above. Knowing the right time to clean out your air filter ensures that you save on energy and maintenance costs.
The right time to clean the air filter depends on its size and location. Small indoor ACs need cleaning after 30 days of constant use. These have small air filters that clog up and that slow down performance.
As for larger units inside your home, you can wait up to one year before you need to clean the air filter. Most share connections to the heating and cooling systems. The same rule applies to outdoor units. The right time for outdoor units is during early spring to late summer, which is when the AC plays a major role. Take time to study each unit, and follow the instruction manual to remove and to clean the air filter.
Air filters are an essentials part of every AC and require regular cleaning. While some are disposable, many energy-efficient units use washable air filters. The good news is that cleaning is a simple procedure that you can do yourself. However, if you are not comfortable cleaning your filter, our HVAC technicians at McGowan's Heating & Air Conditioning in Jacksonville, FL, can do it for you.
We also specialize in other services, including AC tune-ups, AC repairs, AC checkups, AC installations, duct cleaning, and commercial services. If you notice your AC is underperforming, contact us today.