Changing your air conditioner filter regularly is a key part of HVAC maintenance. It can also be easy to forget to change your filter; after all, it is tucked away and hidden. However, leaving a dirty filter in for months could wreak havoc on your air conditioner—especially in Southwest Florida, with its sub-tropical climate. As experts in air conditioning systems, Wayne Martin & Son Signature Air Conditioning have some things to teach you about the possible consequences when you don’t change your ac filter.
What’s the point of an AC filter?
There is a common misconception that air filters are just there to catch dust and purify the air. This is partially true, as filters do stop dust from entering your HVAC machinery. A standard AC filter, is not designed to catch fine matter such as pollen and dander. However, there are higher-quality, non-standard filters that are designed to prevent the accumulation of allergens, micro particulates, and other potential breathing hazards such as dust, mold, and pet dander in your home or office.
Simply put, your air conditioner can’t function without a filter. Changing the filter regularly, in combination with routine cleaning, helps ensure the AC unit continues to do its job. The filter protects your AC unit by serving as a shield against dust and dirt. By running an air conditioner without a filter, or by keeping an old, dirty filter in the unit, you open up the possibility of a slew of different problems your air conditioner can experience.
Issues a dirty filter can cause your air conditioner
• Dirt Build Up—Dust can wreak havoc on several components of your air conditioner—namely, your blower, fans, and ductwork. Any of these parts will jam if clogging agents such as dust, dirt, and debris gather there. The filter serves the same function as a window screen. It allows airflow into your home, while keeping out what you don’t want.
• Lowered Energy Efficiency—When airflow becomes blocked due to a dirty filter, your air conditioner is incapable of functioning as it should. During warmer months, your air conditioner is already less efficient. A dirty filter can overwork the machine during warmer weather, freezing the lines and leading to total shutdown. Less efficiency can also raise your utility bills. On the other hand, changing your air conditioner filter as recommended can lower your energy consumption by as much as 15%.
• Contamination—Because traditional filters are not designed as a barrier against allergens, they also are not designed to prevent other air contaminants like mold and mildew. Only HEPA filters that are changed properly and on the recommended schedule will guard against the accumulation of these potential health hazards. If you have moisture issues anywhere in your home, then a HEPA filter could prevent a mold infestation. HEPA filters are also suggested for those with asthma, allergies, poor air quality, and those who share a multi-person space, but wish to promote better air circulation. It is also important to note that higher efficiency air filters are not suitable for all air conditioners. In fact some air conditioners can be damaged by heavy filtration, as they will not get the amount of air flow they need. Ask a professional air conditioning technician like ours at Wayne Martin & Son Signature Air Conditioning about the best kind of filter for your air conditioner.
Long-Term Damage—Wear and tear are inevitable, no matter what type of air conditioner you have. The lifespan of your air conditioner is determined by how much it is used, how long you’ve had it, and the quality of the construction and installation of the unit. An AC unit that has its filter changed regularly is going to last longer—just like seeing your doctor and dentist regularly helps to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Changing Your AC Filter
First, you need to locate the AC filter. With central air, you want to go to the central unit and remove the access panel. Next, you remove the old filter and insert the replacement, making sure you’re placing the filter in the direction the air is flowing. This is as simple as installing the filter so that the arrows on the sides point in the direction of the airflow. You want to make sure the filter is the right size and specifications for your air conditioner. A filter that is too big will not fit; a filter that is too small will leave space, allowing dust and other harmful particulates to get past it into the unit.
How often should you change your AC filter?
There’s no one set answer to this question, although most air conditioners need to have their filters changed at least every 60 days. You might be able to keep your filter working for up to 90 days if your home has no pets. Due to the build-up of dander, the filter in a home with one pet should be changed once per 60 days. If you have multiple pets, or anyone in your home living with asthma or allergies, the filter should be changed at least every 45 days or as often as once every 20 days.
Having a dirty filter is also one of the first things to look for if your air conditioner starts to malfunction and, in Southwest Florida, any issues with the productivity of your AC can make life miserable in a hurry. At Wayne Martin & Son Signature Air Conditioning, we have more than a quarter century of experience in the field of AC installation and repair. We can diagnose any issues with your air conditioner, and even change your filter for you—as recommended and on schedule—if you sign up for our preventative maintenance program.
Isn’t it time to see why so many homeowners and businesses trust us for their air conditioner repair and installation needs? Schedule an appointment today by calling (239) 462-4068 or reach us online. Wayne Martin & Son Signature Air Conditioning is proud to serve Fort Myers in Southwest Florida, as well as the surrounding communities such as Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres, Alva, and Bonita Springs.