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AC Filters Explained

AC Filters Explained

Air conditioner filters are one of the most important parts of an AC system, yet in many Florida homes, AC filters go ignored for months on end. As the name suggests AC filters trap large particles such as dust, mold, and pet dander that float around in the air before it goes through the AC system.

Now, you may think, “the air in my house isn’t dirty!” While it might not seem polluted, the air you breathe is filled with small pieces of debris, including skin cells, pollen, pet dander, and countless other biological contaminants. This is the main reason all air conditioning systems have filters. Indoor air quality is dependent on AC filters working well, which is why you need to know exactly how your AC is filtering air.

Do AC Filters Last Forever?

The answer to that question is a resounding, no. Think of your vacuum cleaner. After you use it, you have to clean it out. Imagine using your vacuum cleaner over and over again without cleaning it – eventually it will stink, clog-up, and stop working.

Your AC filter is very similar. After working hard to remove small particles of dust and debris out of the air, your filter will eventually become clogged. When the particles trapped by the air filter start to build up, airflow through the filters becomes hindered and your AC unit stops functioning at an optimal level. It starts working harder to get air through the dirty filter, meaning it uses more power to pump the same amount of cool air around your house.

Can You Clean AC Filters?

Yes and no. Some filters can, and should, be cleaned regularly, but others are simple, replaceable filters. Follow our 5-step AC filter cleaning process to cover all your air conditioning bases.

  • Step 1

    Check your owner’s manual to find out what type of filter you have, and where it is located in your AC unit. If you can’t find your owner’s manual you can always call Art Plumbing, AC & Electric for assistance, rather than poking around the AC system yourself.

  • Step 2

    Turn your AC unit off before doing anything physically with the unit.

  • Step 3

    After locating your AC filter, gently remove it. If the filter is washable, proceed to step 4.

    If the filter has a cardboard edge, it isn’t washable and should simply be replaced (check your AC manual to be sure). AC filters can be found at most department stores, specialized air conditioning stores, or can even be ordered online.

  • Step 4

    If your AC filter can be washed, take it outside and spray it with a garden hose on both sides. Don’t hold the hose right next to the filter as the water pressure could damage it. Just let the water wash over it until it runs clean. Then leave it out to dry completely.

  • Step 5

    When the filter is dry, replace it in the correct compartment. Most filters are marked ‘air in’ and ‘air out’ so you know which side to use.

When Does An AC Filter Need To Be Replaced?

Because air conditioning units vary in design and efficiency, figuring out when your AC filter should be replaced can be difficult. Although there is no set answer for when filters should be replaced, most professionals agree that filters in older AC units should be replaced roughly once a month if they are used regularly. Newer models can go up to three months without the filter needing to be replaced.

If you are a big family with a large number of pets, you might want to change your AC filter quite regularly, whereas a smaller household without pets can likely go longer without having to change their filter.

What AC Filter Should I Use?

Changing your AC filter is good for your health, and using the right AC filter is good for the health of your air conditioning unit. Filter quality is based on the MERV Rating, or minimum efficiency reporting value rating. MERV Ratings are based on how fine the filter is, and how good it is at catching foreign particles in the air. This graphic will give you all the info you need to choose the MERV Rated AC filter you need.

At Art Plumbing, AC & Electric, we know that choosing and then figuring out how to clean an AC filter can be a stressful and complicated process. If you are ever worried about the quality of your air or the efficiency of your air conditioning unit, we are just one phone call away.

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