Although air conditioner filters are often overlooked, they play an essential role. Filters keep your indoor air quality healthy by blocking dust, dirt, and debris from getting into the air you breathe. And, as you start to spend more time indoors as the season changes, keeping healthy indoor air quality becomes a necessity.

When your filter is clogged, your AC unit will likely work much harder to pump air, using more electricity and reducing your unit’s lifespan. This means that cleaning them throughout the year is vital not only for your health, but also for your wallet. Luckily, washable air filters are now more common than ever, and the process of cleaning them is easy.

How Often Should You Clean an Air Conditioner Filter?

According to experts, HVAC maintenance should be done once or twice a year. Filters, however, are a different question altogether. Ideally, filters should be cleaned on a monthly basis. Furthermore, it’s recommended to do this more frequently if you live in highly polluted areas, such as urban areas or if you live near highways or construction areas.

With filter maintenance, a visual inspection is the easiest way to determine how often you should perform a cleaning. If you start noticing clear signs of dust buildup on your filter, then it’s high time for another clean-up. To provide some guidance, we’ve made this step-by-step guide on cleaning your air conditioner’s filter. However, note this guide only applies to units with washable or reusable filters. If your unit uses disposable filters, you’ll have to replace them in lieu of cleaning.

Step One: Shut the Power Off

First, make sure your unit is properly turned off. This step should also apply whenever you perform any type of servicing on your air conditioner. This will not only ensure your safety but also stop your air conditioner from experiencing any potential damage. As an extra precaution, you can also completely unplug your unit from the power outlet.

Step Two: Identify the Location of the AC Filter

The exact location of your filter will depend on the type of HVAC system that you have. Usually, units house their filters just near the cold air return, typically found either close to the floor or near the ceiling. If your house has a basement, then the component is usually found there. However, if you don’t have a basement, it will typically be in the garage or some other type of storage room.

In other cases, you may also have a few filters behind return vents scattered around the house. If you’re in doubt, then it’s a good idea to call your air conditioner’s manufacturer and ask where the filter can be found.

Step Three: Check the Filter’s Condition

Once you’ve located where the filter is, unscrew the vent cover or release the handle to remove the filter. Gently slide it out to make sure it doesn’t get damaged, and then give it a thorough look over. If you can see any grayness, discoloration, or visible surface dust on the filter, then it’s time to clean.

Step Four: Vacuum the Filter

To start cleaning the filter, use a vacuum with a bristled attachment to remove all the dust that’s caked onto the filter. Take your time with the vacuum to make sure you get all the dust removed from your AC’s filters by cleaning both sides. You may need to empty the vacuum cleaner for increased power to ensure you get all of the dust removed from the filters.

Step Five: Soak the Filter in a 50/50 Mixture of Water and Vinegar

Before performing this step, make sure you contact your manufacturer or read your AC’s manual. Sometimes, the instructions will be directly printed onto your air conditioner. This step is important because some air conditioner filters are simply not designed to get wet. You want to avoid creating any damage that could lead to costly repairs to your unit.

Once you’ve checked and confirmed that the filter is water-friendly, make a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar and soak the filter in it for about an hour. The acidic nature of vinegar is powerful enough to dissolve mineral deposits, grime, grease, and dirt. In fact, it’s even strong enough to kill bacteria.

After soaking the filter in the mixture, run it under your bathtub faucet or handheld shower to rinse it with clean water. Make sure you use warm water as well, as this will remove the remaining debris and rinse your filter from any vinegar smell and residue. Do this until the filter is spotless, but make sure the water pressure is not too intense as this can rip through the filter material and damage it.

Step Six: Let the Filter Dry Completely

After washing the air filter, let it dry thoroughly. Consult the AC instructions for any particular or specific steps you have to take. Lay the filter against the side of the bathtub or a wall for a few hours to dry it without damaging the filter’s grille. However, make sure you flip it over midway through the drying process.

If you need to use the air conditioner sooner than expected, you can also use a hairdryer set to “cool” to increase the filter’s drying. However, take note that hotter temperatures can burn or damage the filter, so be careful when using one.

Step Seven: Reinstall the Filter

Once you have thoroughly cleaned the filter and dried it, reinstall it. Usually, most filters have an arrow that indicates which way they are supposed to face. Note that this arrow needs to point in the direction of your air conditioner’s airflow.

Afterward, simply plug the air conditioner back in, and voila! You’re done. Now that you know these steps, simply follow them whenever it’s time to clean your air filter.

Top-Notch Home Service at a Non-Premium Price

When was the last time that your AC was cleaned and maintained in Vero Beach or the Treasure Coast area? While they are engineered to last, proper AC clean-up and maintenance are critical to making sure your AC functions remain optimal. Our staff at Air Docs of the Treasure Coast can help keep your AC clean.

Striving to serve our local neighbors diligently, we offer affordable pricing for quality heating and air conditioning services, including repairs, installations, preventative maintenance, and more. In addition, we also provide indoor air quality and air purification services because you deserve to breathe nothing but clean air.

With highly skilled and certified technicians and a can-do attitude, Air Docs of the Treasure Coast in Vero Beach and the surrounding Treasure Coast area is committed to making your home more comfortable without charging you excessively high fees. If you’re concerned about your indoor air quality, get peace of mind by hiring one of our experienced technicians to perform your annual AC checkup. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or learn more about how we can be of service.

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