For most people, as long as the air conditioner seems to be doing it’s job, keeping the home or office cool, many people don’t think about the necessary maintenance that should be done on the unit. Of course, keeping the air conditioner running in tip-top shape is imperative for both longevity of the unit and to keep energy costs to a minimum. One of the most important maintenance tasks that should be done to the air conditioning unit is to ensure the filter is clean. A clean filter allows air to freely flow back into the unit, whereas a dirty and clogged filter will make the unit work much harder, making it cost more to run and more prone to breakdowns. Cleaning or changing the filter takes very little time to actually do, but the advantages are many.
Most homes and commercial buildings use Pleated Air Filters. A pleated air filter has more surface area than an inexpensive panel filter. This means that more dust, dirt and debris can be caught in this filter, making it a better choice for most units. Aside from style choice, Air Filters are rated by MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) ratings. Many inexpensive disposable filters have ratings in the 1 – 4 range. Many times, these filters allow more particles of dust, dander, mold, viruses, bacteria, and pollen though the filter than is safe for both the unit and those breathing the air. It’s recommended that most homes and offices use filters with a 5 – 7 MERV rating. These filters catch most contaminants in the air, keeping both the unit, and the people inhaling clean air. Some Industrial Air Filters have MERV ratings of 8 – 12. These filters may be necessary for some warehouse or factory settings, but for normal home or office use, they may actually pick up so much debris floating in the air that they become dirty too frequently, actually putting an undue strain on the AC unit.
Most air filters in an average home or office setting should be changed at least every 90 days, but their condition should always be assessed at 30 and 60 days to ensure they have not become prematurely dirty. Washable Air Filters should be washed every 30 days, as there is no waste in doing so, and ensures a clean filter.
Changing the filter does much to save energy and prolong the life of an air conditioning unit, yet this task is overlooked quite often. Mark it on the calendar or put a reminder on the cell phone, but always remember to check the AC filter. Both the unit and the checkbook will be grateful.