Why You Need to Replace Your Air Conditioner Filter

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Given that the average American spends 90% of their time inside, indoor air quality has the potential to have a major impact on overall health and well-being. However, many ignore one typical contribution to indoor air quality: air conditioning.

According to AC repair services, air conditioners can improve air quality by controlling temperature, lowering humidity, and enhancing filtration. A dirty system, on the other hand, can worsen air quality.

Bacteria and other infections have been found to accumulate in air conditioning units, potentially sickening those who are exposed to them.

Legionnaires’ disease, a kind of pneumonia, can be spread through contaminated air-cooling systems, and unclean AC can also cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, an allergic reaction to irritants such as bacteria and fungi that causes lung inflammation.

A 2023 study compared healthy adults in India who spent at least six hours per day in air conditioning to those who spent the same amount of time in naturally ventilated buildings and discovered that those in air-conditioned environments had more health problems, such as respiratory symptoms, headaches, and lethargy—possibly due to contaminants accumulating in these buildings, among other factors.

The air filter is essential for ensuring healthy indoor air quality. The filter cannot efficiently absorb airborne particles and allergens if it is filthy and blocked.

As a result, these toxins may spread throughout your home, potentially causing respiratory problems and allergies. Regularly replacing the filter contributes to cleaner, healthier indoor air.

Other benefits of replacing your air filters

Efficient airflow: An air conditioner filter’s principal job is to catch dust, grime, pollen, and other airborne particles in the incoming air.

The filter gets clogged with these impurities over time, reducing airflow. A blocked filter limits your air conditioner’s effectiveness and makes it work harder to maintain the intended temperature.

Energy efficiency: When your air conditioner works harder to circulate air owing to a blocked filter, it uses more electricity. This raises electricity rates and places undue demand on the system.

Replacing the filter regularly ensures that your air conditioner performs at peak efficiency, saving you energy and money.

Long lifespan: A clogged filter puts additional strain on the components of your air conditioner, particularly the fan and compressor.

This additional strain causes early wear and tear, limiting your unit’s lifespan. Changing the filter regularly protects your air conditioner from avoidable harm and extends its operational life.

Protect your appliance from failure: Replacing the air conditioner filter is a low-cost preventive maintenance measure. It helps prevent issues caused by blocked filters, such as frozen coils or decreased cooling capability.

Regular maintenance, including filter replacement, can help identify problems early on and prevent more severe difficulties from coming about later on.

Air conditioner filters best practices.

Upgrade your filters

A minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) is often labeled on an air-conditioning filter, which measures its ability to catch particles in the air, ranging from dust and pet dander to smog and mold.

The more the filter collects, the higher the MERV value. When you are shopping in the market, look for MERV 11 or MERV 13 filters if compatible with your air-conditioning system.

If your system doesn’t work with these filters—window units, in particular, have lower-quality filters—you may want to buy a separate HEPA filter to help improve your air quality.

Use the air filters properly.

How you use the filter is more essential than the filter itself. Priority number one: replace or clean it regularly. If you put it off too long, mold and other toxins can accumulate in your AC system and move throughout your home, potentially provoking allergies and other respiratory disorders.

The frequency with which you should change your filter depends on the manufacturer’s instructions, how frequently you use your air conditioner, and the air quality in your home.

Clean or replace your filter every month or two during high-usage seasons for the best outcome. This not only prevents contamination but also improves system performance.

Manufacturers normally recommend vacuuming, cleaning it with water and a gentle detergent, and allowing it to dry completely before reinserting it.

Regardless of the filter you get, make sure it fits properly. The reason is that air will take the easiest path, so if your filter has gaps around it, air will pass it, and you don’t want this, do you?

Run the fan more regularly.

The fan turns on when the central air conditioning system works to lower the interior temperature by circulating cool air.

This happens 20% of the time for most residential systems. This is because air only passes through the filter when the fan is turned on.

The best way to do it is to run the fan for 20 minutes every hour (approximately 33% of the time) to improve filtration, especially during pollen or other irritant seasons.

Many window units also have fan settings, but you should avoid running the fan as the longer run time will not result in significant health benefits because the filters used in window AC systems often do not remove most pollutants from indoor air.

Bring outdoor air in

Most industrial HVAC systems bring in outside air regularly to promote ventilation. This is significant because poor ventilation leads to “sick building syndrome,” in which individuals feel ill while inside, suffering symptoms such as headaches, coughing, exhaustion, and nausea, even though there is no evident cause.

The US Environmental Protection Agency states that most household air-conditioning units do not mechanically draw in fresh outdoor air. However, some models feature a vent that can be kept open for fresh-air intake.

If yours does not, air conditioner repair services Stony Brook recommend that you consider turning off your system for a few hours each day and opening the windows to allow air to circulate. (This assumes the outdoor air quality is good; if not, keep your windows closed.)

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