Informational Guide

How Often Should You Clean Your AC Filter?

Keep your AC running by regular cleaning. We break down how often this should be done and the reasons why.

by Josh M

Your AC system keeps your home or business cool and comfortable. In order to keep it working properly, there are a few things you should do, including cleaning the air filter.

Here’s what you need to know about how often to clean your AC filter.

The AC filter removes pollutants, contaminants, and debris from the air before the system pushes it into your home. As time goes by, particles will accumulate on the surface of the filter and make it less effective.

Here’s why keeping the filter clean is important.

Related ArticleHow To Clean Any AC Filter

Clean AC Filter

Ensures Clean Air

Common particles found in indoor air include VOCs, radon, pesticides, dust, viruses, pollen, pet dander, and more. Levels can build up and become unhealthy. A clean filter greatly improves the quality of your indoor air by trapping these particles.

Reduces Your Carbon Footprint

A dirty filter creates a barrier when your AC system pushes cool air into your home. The blower or fan has to work extra hard as a result. Plus, you’ll have to run the system longer to cool your home.

It will cause your energy consumption to go up. And since only 17% of all electricity consumed in the US comes from renewable sources, using more energy means that your carbon footprint will go up.

Lowers The Electric Bill

Because your AC system has to work harder to provide sufficient airflow, it’s going to draw more power. The fan speed will go up to pull more cool air out of the compressor. If your filter is dirty, you’ll probably see your energy bill exceed the average $115 a month that people are paying in the US.

Extends The Life Of Your AC Unit

Because moving parts are working harder to push air through a dirty filter and you leave your AC unit running longer, you’ll see more wear and tear on moving parts. Things like the thermostat, compressor pump or blower and fan motors will fail sooner.

Save Money On Maintenance And Repairs Costs

Before these different components fail, you’ll probably run into issues that require repairs. A dirty filter can cause maintenance and repair costs to add up over the years. However, it’s something you can easily prevent by keeping your filter, coils, and ducts clean.

Clean AC Filter with Running Water

How Often Should You Clean Your AC Filter?

How often to clean your AC filter depends on a few different things. Not all AC filters will get dirty at the same rate.

As a rule of thumb, you should clean your AC filter every month or two during the summer since you’ll be using your AC unit regularly. If you’re wondering how often to clean the window of the AC filter, the answer is similar since you should clean it every four to six weeks.

Note that you might need to clean your AC filter more often if you use your central air or window unit constantly.

Besides, there are some factors that can cause the filter to get dirty faster. For example, if you live near a busy road or in an area with a lot of dust, your AC filter will trap more particles. The same applies if there are trees that release a lot of pollen in your area, if you have pets, or if you smoke. Humidity levels and the size of your home can also affect how often you have to clean your AC filter.

You should check your filter once a month. First, remove it and hold it up to the light. If you can’t see the light through it, it’s time to clean it. If you keep an eye on your AC filter, you should get an idea of how long it takes before it will get dirty again.

Problems Caused By Dirty AC Filters (Signs That Cleaning Is Needed)

Now that you know how often to clean an AC filter, you should also know why it’s important to keep this component clean.

Problems of Dirty AC Filter

Your Home Indoor Air Quality Becomes Compromised

A dirty or clogged air filter can’t do its job properly. It will let debris, pollutants, and contaminants into your home. Plus, the particles that have accumulated on the filter might end up in the air you breathe.

Poor indoor air quality is a serious problem since research suggests that we spend as much as 90% of our time indoors. In addition, it can increase the risks of developing respiratory diseases like asthma or COPD or worsen existing symptoms.

Ductwork Will Become Clogged With Dirt & Debris

If the filter isn’t working properly, particles will spread through the AC system. Dirt and debris will build up in the ductwork and create clogs or reduce the airflow.

Clogged ductwork means your AC unit will have to work harder to cool your home. The quality of your indoor air will also suffer as debris accumulate and end up in the air you breathe.

Water Damage Is Possible For The AC System

An AC system that works properly pulls hot and humid air from the outside. The coils cool it and create condensation in this process. Water then goes into a pan and exits the system via a drain line.

With a dirty filter, airflow will become insufficient, and humidity will build up in the system. A humid environment can cause components to rust.

Related ArticleWhat To Do If AC Leaks Water?

AC System Overheating

A dirty filter will restrict airflow in the AC system. As a result, heat from moving parts and from the outside air can build up faster than the condenser can capture it. Your AC system will be less efficient, and some components could overheat and fail.

Frozen Evaporator Coil

Another consequence of limited airflow is that the evaporator coils can freeze. The coils need a steady influx of hot air that they can absorb. If there isn’t enough outside air pulled by the system, the coils will freeze. It’s a serious issue since frozen coils can sustain significant damage.

People Also Ask (FAQ)

Can you clean the AC filter yourself?

Yes, you can clean the filter yourself. It’s a simple process that should only take a few minutes. If you’re not sure how to do it, ask the technician to show you how during your next AC tune-up.

How do you clean an air conditioner filter?

The easiest way to clean an air conditioner filter is to use a vacuum. If the filter is extremely dirty, you can let it soak in a mix of white vinegar and warm water for an hour. Avoid using a hose or applying pressure since you could damage the filter.

Does cleaning the AC filter make it colder?

The answer is yes. A clean filter will allow for better airflow, which means you will get more cool air. Now that you know how often to clean an air conditioner filter, you should be able to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home.

Conclusion

How often should you clean your air conditioner filter? Ideally, you should clean your AC filter every month or two. However, several factors can cause dirt, debris, and particles to accumulate faster and cause the filter to become dirty. Watch out for signs like limited airflow or an AC system that doesn’t produce air that feels cool enough since it might be time to clean your filter.

Related ArticleHow Do I Clean My Home AC

Last Updated on July 15, 2022

Josh M

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with the HVAC industry. I created this website to help HVAC techs of all levels get the best out of their heating & cooling systems. I have spent thousands of hours studying air conditioners, heaters and home air products so you can learn & buy with confidence. Learn more about the team here.

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