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Air Conditioner Air Filter Fact Sheet

by Glyn Sheridan

Air conditioner

Your air conditioner operates by drawing in air, cooling it and then releasing it into your living area. Whether you use a portable air conditioner or a window unit or you have central air conditioning, your air filters will need to be periodically checked and changed. After a while, airborne dust, debris, pollen and other particles may clog your air filters. A clogged air filter forces air conditioners and heaters to work harder and may result in higher energy costs. Dirty or damaged air filters may also shorten the life of your air conditioner. Here are a few facts about air-conditioner air filters help you get the most out of your air conditioner.

What You Need to Know:

  1. Multiple filter types are available. Most air conditioners use lightweight, inexpensive fiberglass air filters. These filters are readily available in hardware stores. HEPA (high efficient particulate air) air conditioner filters remove much more airborne dust, pollen and allergens than fiberglass filters, making them ideal in households where allergies or asthma are a concern. Electrostatic air filters are also very effective at removing particles, and many models are reusable. Electrostatic filters are more expensive, however, than other types.

  2. Filter sizes can affect efficiency. Each air conditioner uses a different filter size. Depending on the rate at which your air conditioner moves air, the filter may need changing more frequently. Smaller filters on frequently used air conditioners need to be changed more often. Determine the air-filter size you need by examining the existing filter. Dimensions and other specifications should be listed somewhere on the air filter.

  3. Replace filters depending on frequency of usage. Remove and replace your air conditioner filters about once every four months or at the start of each season. If you have animals in your home or you live in an area with a lot of dust, change your air filters once a month during the warm seasons.

  4. Filter location varies, depending on the air conditioner. The location of air filters on an air conditioner varies with each model. Consult your user manual to learn how to safely change the air filter. If your home has central air conditioning, the filter will usually be located behind one or more return-air outlets. These outlets are vents which recycle warm air from your home to be re-cooled by the air conditioner.

  5. Reusable filters can be cleaned. If you purchase a HEPA filter or an electrostatic filter, you may be able to clean it and allow it to dry before reinstalling it. Not all filters are reusable, so check the package or description to be sure. To clean the filter, spray from the backside with a fine, but strong, water spray. Spray until the water runs clean. Don't reinstall the filter until it is completely dry.

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