There are a number of reasons why people don’t change dirty air filters. For some, the air filter is “out of sight, out of mind,” so it’s not a major priority. Unfortunately, a dirty filter has the power to wreak a lot of havoc when it’s not changed. This is because it prevents central air from flowing efficiently. Here are some signs that your filter needs changing before it damages your AC unit. Some best practices for your air filter maintenance are also mentioned.
Signs the Filter Needs Changing
An astute homeowner can easily learn to recognize when it’s time to change the air filter in the HVAC unit. This is important because if you wait too long, your overworked unit may shut off.
1. Evaporator Coils Freeze
An HVAC system is designed so that as refrigerant inside the condenser unit evaporates, the coils absorb the heat from the air as it flows over it. The cooled air is then blown back into the rooms. If the filter is too dirty, the flow of the cold air is partially blocked, and it can build up to the point that the coils freeze. When this happens, the air cannot be sufficiently cooled. When the ice begins to melt, you’ll notice a pool of water around the base of the unit. There might be another reason for a leak but check the air filter first. If it’s dirty, replace it.
2. Energy Bill Increase
One of the reasons why it’s important to change your air filter is because avoidance leads to a costly repair. A dirty air filter can damage your unit’s ability to function efficiently. When your air conditioning unit needs to work harder to push air throughout the home, this requires more energy. Consequently, when you use more energy, your energy bills will rise.
If you’re paying more but feel like you’re not getting the same amount of efficiency, this could be a strong indication that you’ll want to double-check your air filter to see if it’s long overdue for a replacement.
3. Uneven Distribution
Pay attention to any temperature differences you feel throughout various rooms of your home. Granted, you’ll want to factor in other variables as well. For example, the ground floor is typically colder than the top floor due to the fact that heat rises. The west side of a home might be warmer in the late afternoon hours as the windows let in more sunlight during the sunset hours.
Even with those variables, pay attention to the way different rooms feel at night. This is especially wise to do with rooms on the same floor. If one bedroom is freezing cold while another bedroom feels warm, this might be an indication that the AC unit isn’t evenly distributing air throughout the home. This could be due to the fact that a dirty air filter is preventing sufficient airflow through the ducts.
4. Allergy Flare-Ups
When you (or anyone in your home) suffer from allergies, a dirty air filter only exacerbates what you experience. An air filter is meant to trap allergens, dirt and bacteria. You can find everything from pollen to dander particles inside of a dirty air filter.
Once the air filter collects a certain amount of dirt, it needs to be cleaned or replaced. Once you use an air filter past its replacement date, it begins to push dirt through the air. Since this air gets dispersed throughout the home, everyone breathes the air in. For anyone with allergies, the symptoms will begin to flare up.
Pay attention to anyone who can’t seem to stop sneezing, coughing or blowing their nose. If allergy symptoms like irritated eyes seem to be incessant, take a closer look at the air filter.
5. Hot or Warm A/C Unit
When a dirty filter doesn’t get removed in a timely fashion, this forces the AC unit to overcompensate. Think of the air filter as the lungs of the home. If the lungs are dirty, this compromises the integrity of the body. When the AC unit needs to work harder to cool down the home, this actually heats up the physical unit. In the same way that the energy bills go up when an AC unit works harder, the physical unit tends to feel warmer as it generates considerably more heat than it should.
6. Frequent Repairs
An HVAC unit needs maintenance to run smoothly and efficiently. If you don’t routinely change the air filters, you may shorten the life expectancy of the system. Meanwhile, by forcing it to work harder, trying to push air through clogged filters, There’s extra wear and tear on the components, which may lead to more frequent repairs.
Solutions and Prevention Methods
1. Develop a Cleaning Routine
While there’s a lot of conversation surrounding air filter replacement, you can clean your air filters routinely as well. By cleaning your air filters once a month, you can do a better job of staying on top of routine maintenance. Create a list of the chores you need to take care of on a monthly basis. Add air filter cleaning to that list.
When you’re ready to clean the air filter, turn off the AC unit. Then, remove the filter. Once you’ve removed the filter, you can opt to vacuum the dirt up. If you choose to vacuum the dirt, use the vacuum attachment to vacuum the dirt. Never roll the machine over the filter.
If you have a reusable filter and would like to take it a step further, take the filter outside and spray it down with a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water. Once you’ve sprayed the cleaning solution on the filter, let it sit for a few minutes. Then, use a garden hose to spray the filter. Allow the filter to sit out and air dry. Once it’s completely dry, place it back in the unit for use. To disperse a fragrant smell throughout the home, add a few drops of essential oil to the filter.
2. Set Reminders for Replacement
Schedule a set of email reminders to arrive in your inbox during the week you’d like to replace your filters. Replacements are easy to forget as months pass before you need a new one. Typically, it’s recommended that you replace your home’s air filter once every three months (every 90 days). If you use a reusable air filter, it can last a number of years. However, reusable air filters still need to be thoroughly cleaned within one to three months of use.
Including Professional Assistance
In addition to providing A/C maintenance and repair, A/C Doctors offers a range of indoor air quality services. Whether you’re in need of ductless mini-splits, heating repair or ductwork, their 1,000+ reviews stand as a testament to the thorough work they provide the Gilbert community and surrounding areas. To learn more about how to get help with your air filter or other A/C maintenance concerns, contact A/C Doctors today.