How to Clean an Air Conditioner Filter

March 16, 2021
Furnace Maintenance

Air conditioners are essential in maintaining a comfortable home during summer by cooling indoor air and blowing it back inside the house. If its air filter is in perfect condition, the air blown into the house will be cleaner. However, if it isn’t, you will notice an increase in your utility bill because the air conditioner is forced to work harder than expected to push cool, clean back into the house.

What Happens When You Don’t Clean Air Filters

Clogged air filters strain the air conditioner and it can ultimately breakdown. Other consequences of clogged or dirty air filters may include:

  • Reduced energy efficiency
  • Short-cycling
  • Poor indoor air quality
  • Reduced comfort
  • Risk of circulating polluted air

When To Clean Air Filters

It’s advisable to clean your air filters at the start of each session, ideally every three to four months. However, you might consider cleaning the filters monthly during the peak seasons, winter and summer. Also, the cleaning frequency depends on the environment. For instance, homeowners with pets or dustier neighborhoods should clean air filters more often. Air conditioners’ air filters help circulate clean air through the unit by trapping allergens, dirt, dust, and other contaminants like bacteria and pollen. Therefore, when you don’t clean your air filters often, they might clog and collect moisture, causing mold growth. Consequently, the mold can easily circulate into the indoor air.

What You Need
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Face mask
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Water hose
  • Scrub brush
  • A wide sink

Ensure That the Filter Is Reusable

Not all air conditioner filters are designed to be cleaned. Some air conditioners have disposable air filters that need a replacement instead of cleaning. Therefore, before you start the cleaning process, check with the manufacturer’s manual to ascertain that the air filter is reusable. Typically, reusable air filters have a plastic or metal frame, but it’s best to read the instruction manual for confirmation.

Shut Off Power

You can clean your air filters if the air conditioner doesn’t have an automatic cleaning function. Please turn off your AC unit’s power before you start the cleaning process. Remember to wear a face mask to avoid inhaling toxic particulates. You can locate the switch button near the condenser unit. If you are cleaning the indoor AC filters, turn off the system by pressing the power button. When cleaning the filters of an outdoor air conditioning unit, you need to turn off the thermostat.

Locate Your AC Unit Filter

Many people struggle to locate the air filter on their AC unit, especially the central AC. You can refer to the instructions manual. The air filters of horizontal AC units are usually located in the intake shot where the air returns. You might need to remove a metal grating to access the filter for outdoor air conditioners. You can remove the cover by pressing down or unscrewing for release. Please do not run the AC unit after removing the cover because it can cause unfiltered air to get into your house. It can also cause a buildup of dirt and debris on the AC’s internal parts, like evaporator coils.

Vacuum the Air Filter

The next step is checking out the condition of the air filter. If you notice visible dust, greyness, or discoloration on the air filter’s surface, then you know that it requires a good cleaning. Use a vacuum to remove the accumulated dust and debris. However, ensure that the vacuum has the right tube extension and use the medium or low setting. Vacuum the filters with an up-and-down motion. Remember that air filters are delicate, so don’t press too hard when vacuuming.

Wash the Air Filter

Vacuuming alone might not effectively clean your air filters if it’s been a while since you cleaned them. It’s best to wash the air filter in a big sink with liquid detergent and warm water. Alternatively, a solution of water and vinegar can also eliminate the grimy accumulation from your air filters. Move the air filter around the mixture to displace the dirt, and then allow it to soak in water for a few minutes. You must avoid abrasive cleaning tools to prevent harming the physical condition of the air filters.

Let It Dry

Let the air filter dry for at least eight hours before reinstalling it to the AC unit. The best place to dry the filter after washing is in natural sunlight. Please don’t be tempted to run the AC without the air filters.

You now have a complete guide to cleaning an AC air filter. We have trained professionals in Nacogdoches who can help with the cleaning process on your behalf. You can turn to us for air duct cleaning, furnace replacements, annual furnace and heat pump maintenance, and emergency repairs 24/7. Do you want to learn more about air filters in Nacogdoches and how to clean them? Contact us at Nacogdoches Sheet Metal, Plumbing & Air Conditioning, LTD. today!