The best way to clean an AC filter

If it looks like your air conditioner has struggled to effectively cool your home lately, it may be time to take a look at this filter. Cleaning the filter is an important, albeit often overlooked, aspect of properly maintaining your air conditioner. While not a complex task, there are some critical tips and tricks to ensure that the air conditioner does not get damaged in the process.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to properly clean your AC filter, including recommendations on how often to do it.

Why you need to clean your air conditioning filter

Air conditioners need good airflow to function. Filters clogged with dust, hair, and other particles impede airflow and the air conditioner’s ability to cool a home. While some devices can still bring the house to a comfortable temperature with a dirty filter, they have to work considerably harder to do so. The result is a high monthly electricity bill that could have been avoided with a little maintenance.

It’s not just about efficiency. It’s also about wear and tear. Air conditioners that constantly run at overdrive wear out and fail faster, potentially leading to costly repairs. They can also freeze and put the air conditioner out of action for a few hours, which users don’t want to experience in the middle of summer.

Indicates that your AC filter needs cleaning

Recommendations generally say cleaning the AC filter every 30 days. However, some filters may have longer cleaning intervals than others. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s guidelines for a particular filter to see the recommended cleaning intervals.

In addition to following a monthly cleaning schedule, keep an eye out for the air conditioner working and check the filter every time it shows signs of need. If users live in a very dusty or very polluted place, they may find that the air conditioner works best if they clean the filter every three weeks. Here are some common signs that the filter needs cleaning:

  • The air conditioning switches on and off constantly.
  • The air quality in the house seems to be deteriorating.
  • The apartment is not getting cool enough.
  • The electricity bill is noticeably higher, but the household has not changed its regular household activities.
  • The coils keep freezing.

How to clean your AC filter

First, turn off the AC device to make sure it doesn’t turn on and suck in air during this process. Next, go to the inlet valve and open the grate. In some households, users may need a screwdriver to do this. Once the filter is accessible, remove it and see if it is a washable and reusable filter or a disposable filter. If the filter has a cardboard frame, this is a good sign that it is disposable and should not be washed.

With either type of filter, you can use the hose of the home vacuum cleaner to gently vacuum dust and hair. When a soft bristle brush attachment is available, it often works best and has minimal risk of damage. Users should be more careful with disposable filters than with reusable filters.

If the filter is washable and the vacuum cleaner hasn’t completely removed the dust, users will spray it with a hose. This can help remove stubborn dust and hair deep inside the filter. After hosing it off, soak it in a mixture of water and white vinegar for about an hour to remove any odors.

When you’re done, let the filter dry completely before putting it back in. Operating an air conditioner with a wet filter can cause ice to build up in the system, affecting its performance.

What you will need to clean your AC filter

Most people already have all of the equipment they need to clean their AC filter. In the event that users do not have some of the items mentioned in the guide, we recommend doing this.

Klein Tools multi-bit screwdriver

If a screwdriver is required to remove the filter grille, it is strong. It will come in handy on many other projects around the house too, thanks to the use of eight commonly used bits.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Bissell Cleanview vacuum cleaner without bag

Bissell Cleanview vacuum cleaner without bag

This budget-friendly vacuum cleaner offers a wide 13.5-inch path to get most homes clean quickly. It has a 7 m long power cord, strong suction power and an easy-to-empty dust container.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Kohls

Gabool vacuum attachment with soft bristles

Gabool vacuum attachment with soft bristles

If the vacuum cleaner available doesn’t have a brush attachment, just order this replacement without spending too much money. It has a 1.25-inch connector and artificial bristles that last a long time.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Home Depot 5 Gallon Homer Bucket

Home Depot 5 Gallon Homer Bucket

This large bucket is an excellent alternative to soaking a filter in a tub. It has a rigid plastic construction and a strong handle that make it suitable for a range of tasks around the home or workshop.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Honeywell Nuisance disposable dust mask

Honeywell Nuisance disposable dust mask

If your household is struggling with asthma, allergies, or sensitivity to dust, consider wearing a face mask when working with the AC filter. This Honeywell model is practical and comfortable to wear.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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