Your AC filter is a critical part of your cooling system. If it becomes clogged with debris, it can raise indoor air quality issues and compromise the performance of your AC. Here are some tips for cleaning and changing your filter.
Understand Your Filter’s MERV Rating
MERV is an AC filter rating that stands for Minimum Efficiency Rating Value. The rating gives a number between 1 and 20, depending on the size of particles the filter can capture. The higher the rating, the more efficient the filtration process.
The type of filter you choose will depend on your specific requirements. If you want your HVAC system to be efficient, a MERV rating between 5 and 8 is sufficient. It can capture mites, insects and dust.
To stop indoor pollution, you need a filter between 9 and 12. It can capture mold, mildew, pet dander and aerosol spray particles. Filters with higher ratings are often recommended for those with allergies or respiratory conditions.
Different Types of AC filters
It is worth noting that the higher the MERV rating, the faster the filter will clog. In such cases, a filter with more pleats is advisable to prevent frequent airflow problems.
A pleated filter usually consists of cotton and polyester folds. It can capture dust, pollen, pet dander and mold spores. They have a MERV rating of between 5 and 8.
Fiberglass filters are the most affordable filtration system, with a MERV rating of about 4. They can stop large particles from getting into your HVAC unit, but they are not efficient at capturing smaller particles or dealing with indoor air pollution.
If your home has an indoor air pollution problem, you can incorporate UV filtration into your system. The ultra-violet light can kill microbes and bacteria circulating in your residence. To explore indoor air quality solutions, you can call We Care Plumbing, Heating and Air in Murrieta.
How to Clean an AC Filter
To keep the air conditioning system efficient, you need to clean or replace the filter, depending on the type. The filter is often located in the return vents. Larger homes may have multiple return vents, so it may be challenging to spot them. You can consult your manufacturer’s manual for instructions.
Examine the filter for signs of staining, debris or dust. If you are using a disposable filter, you should simply replace it.
If you have a reusable filter, you can clean it with water. Spray the water in the opposite direction to the filter’s direction of airflow. That is to ensure the debris does not shift further into the filter.
Before you can put back the reusable filter, ensure it is thoroughly dry. Wetness will allow dust and debris to form into a stubborn gunk. You can use a hairdryer, but be careful not to damage the filter with high temperatures.
Have a Schedule for Filter Cleaning or Replacement
Ideally, you ought to clean or replace filters at least once every three months. But that also depends on certain factors unique to your air conditioning system and home.
For example, filtration systems with high MERV ratings need more regular cleaning or replacement. The filter accumulates more dirt because it captures more particles. If it has a regular thickness, make a point of cleaning it at least once a month.
The pollutants circulating inside the interior are another factor that will influence the frequency of filter maintenance. Households with many occupants or pets should change the filter at least once a month.
Another issue with filter maintenance is forgetting to clean or replace it. Consider setting reminders to ensure you don’t skip this crucial maintenance task. Dust and debris can take a toll on your air conditioning system, forcing it to break down faster.
Signs It Is Time to Change Your Filter
Your AC filter can get clogged and allow debris to escape into your home. One indication of a clogged filter is dust around the vents. You may spot dust on surfaces, walls or furnishings.
To be sure that your filter needs a replacement, you can conduct the white sheet test. Place a white sheet five inches away from the vent. Examine the sheet after an hour. If there are grey or brown marks, your filter is inefficient.
A dirty filter can aggravate the symptoms of asthma or respiratory complications. When pet dander, dust mites and debris cling to the filter, they can later find their way into the interior of your home. You may experience sneezing attacks and episodes of fatigue.
Another sign of airflow and filtration problems is a rise in your energy consumption. A clogged filter blocks the airflow, preventing your AC from cooling your space adequately. If your utility bills have been rising, you should probably consult an AC professional to troubleshoot your system.
Adjust the Thermostat Fan Setting to “Auto”
One reason your AC filter may be getting clogged fast could be an unsuitable thermostat setting. If you set the air conditioner’s fan to “On,” it will keep running continuously. As a result, it generates more debris that quickly blocks the filter and compromises airflow.
Setting the fan to “Auto” yields much better results. The AC’s fan only runs when it has to. Therefore, it accumulates less dust and debris. It also consumes less energy, reducing your utility bills. Additionally, your AC sustains less wear and tear due to the more efficient cooling process.
Consider Addressing Indoor Air Quality
The filter could be clogging at a fast rate due to sources of pollution inside your home. Mold, mildew, bacteria and microbes could already have spread to different areas in the building. Addressing the indoor air quality problem could be the best long-term solution.
You can address indoor air pollution by air duct sealing and cleaning. Faulty ductwork can increase the amount of debris and pollutants circulating in your home.
Moisture problems can also lead to significant air quality issues around the building. Dehumidification can manage the risk of microbial infestations.
Dehumidification can also improve the performance of your AC when the humidity reaches 70%. We Care Plumbing, Heating and Air in Murrieta provides comprehensive indoor air quality solutions.
Stick to Your Routine Maintenance Schedule
Besides cleaning and replacing your filter, you should always stick to your annual maintenance schedule. Other parts of your AC can collect dust and debris, affecting the performance of your cooling system. Even if you change the filter, the grime and dirt are already inside your equipment.
Maintenance professionals can clean components of your system to restore its performance. If there is dirt and grime on parts such as the blower and the evaporator coils, your AC will struggle to cool.
Additionally, the maintenance process involves testing electrical components and checking for faults. Certified technicians will also examine the integrity of your ductwork for leakages and clogging. A professional can spot and rectify issues to prevent recurring repair problems with your system.
We Care Plumbing, Heating and Air offers quality AC repairs, maintenance and installation services in Murrieta. Our firm performs the same range of services for heating equipment, and as our name implies, you can rely on us for all your plumbing needs. We are accredited by the BBB with an A+ rating, and our business is Pearl Certified. We believe in fair and transparent pricing, and we’ll provide an estimate before performing any service. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or learn more.