Air conditioning is a lifesaver in the summertime. There’s nothing like a blast of cold air to bring relief from oppressive heat and humidity. Your AC unit won’t keep you cool forever all on its own, however. It’s important to perform regular air conditioning maintenance to keep your system running cleanly and efficiently. One of the most important components in regard to diligent air conditioner maintenance is changing the filters regularly – most need to be swapped out or cleaned on a monthly basis. Read on to learn more about how these filters work and why you need to keep them clean.

Preserve Your Valuable Equipment

The role of a filter is simple – It collects dust and grime from the air before your AC unit blows it throughout the house. If the filter gets clogged with too much debris, the air conditioner has to work harder to push the air through, which can destroy your efficiency and leave you with a nasty surprise when the electricity bill comes. Furthermore, the dirtier a filter gets, the more likely that some of that dust will bypass it and end up circulating through your home, wreaking havoc on your indoor air quality. Excess dirt can also clog up the motor and other parts of the unit, shortening its lifespan.

Fortunately, cleaning or changing the filter is one of the easiest tasks when it comes to air conditioning maintenance, and it’s one that you should be able to take care of yourself. The general rule of thumb is to change filters every month, but that could vary depending on your specific model, how susceptible you are to dust allergies and whether or not you have pets, whose fur can cause the filter to clog up more quickly.

Finding the Right Size for You

The exact steps you need to take to change the filter depend on the specific model of your air conditioner, so you should read your manufacturer instructions for a step-by-step guide. Generally, filters will be found near the fan motor or ductwork. You might have to remove a grate or take some screws out to access the filter.

For reusable filters, simply give them a thorough cleaning with water or a vacuum cleaner. For disposable filters, just toss it in the trash and buy a new one. If you don’t know the exact model of filter you need, you can measure it and take note of any identifying numbers so you know that you are buying a replacement that fits. For most air conditioners, you will have a choice of different qualities of filters – the higher the MERV rating, or minimum efficiency reporting value, the more dust it will filter out. But higher MERV ratings also force air conditioners to work harder, so there’s a tradeoff in efficiency.

Bringing it All Back Home

Once you have a new filter, make sure it is facing the right direction and put it back in place the same way you took the old one out. That’s all there is to it. If you need help locating or replacing your filter, or with any other facets of air conditioning maintenance, call your local HVAC technician today.