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Your AC’s Air Filter—Some Important Facts About It

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Most of the components in your air conditioning system should only be handled by trained HVAC technicians. You don’t want to tamper with parts like the coils or motors on your own—DIY repair attempts often backfire, and they can also void the warranty.

However, there is one part of the HVAC cabinet and your air conditioner that you will need to deal with, and that’s the air filter. This is a vital part of keeping an air conditioner in good shape and ensuring it stays effective and energy efficient.

Here’s what the air filter ISN’T

Before we get into describing the job of the HVAC filter and what you need to do with it, we want to address what the air filter isn’t, because it’s a major misunderstanding that can cause problems:

The filter is not an air cleaner.

The purpose of the filter isn’t to provide cleaner, healthier air to your home. Although it does remove some contaminants that circulate through the ventilation system, that isn’t what it’s designed for. If you have indoor air quality issues, the solution is to have specialized air filters installed into the HVAC system. You can talk to our IAQ specialists about air filters and air purifiers to give your home healthier air.

What the air filter is

The air filter is in place on the HVAC cabinet to stop the dust, dirt, and other debris that come through the return air ducts from getting inside the cabinet. These particles can impede the operation of the air conditioner in a number of ways, such as placing extra stress on the motors or blocking the evaporator coil from absorbing heat. If you have both a furnace and an air conditioner in the same cabinet (which is the standard set-up for most homes) the same air filter protects both.

The filter is usually located in a slot where the return duct connects to the HVAC cabinet at the blower. If it’s not there, it will be located behind the return vent cover in the house.

Air filter maintenance

Now we come to the important part: what you have to do with the air filter.

The air filter isn’t self-cleaning, so over time it will become clogged with the debris it catches. When this happens, it puts the AC in jeopardy. A clogged filter will make the blower drain more power and may even lead to a circuit breaker tripping because of the extra strain on the motor. The choking off of airflow will also cause comfort to drop around the house. If the filter stays in place, it will eventually start to distort, allowing dust and lint to get around it and into the cabinet.

To prevent this, you’ll need to change the filter every 1 to 3 months. How often you do it depends on the strength of the filter and how often you use the AC or the fan. If you don’t know how to change the filter, let our technicians show you during your air conditioning maintenance in Salt Lake City, UT this spring.

One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning is here to help whenever you need AC service! “Always on Time … Or You Don’t Pay a Dime!”

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