If you’re like most people, you probably don’t give your AC system a lot of thought. “As long as it’s keeping my house cool,” you reason, “what’s there to worry about?”
As it turns out, there’s plenty to worry about. Your AC system circulates the air you breathe throughout your house. If there are contaminants in the air, they get dispersed to each room through that system.
Those contaminants come from a buildup of dirt and contaminants on your air filter. When these filters get too dirty, it results in your needing an air filter replacement.
Air filters are a critical part of AC system maintenance; when they get dirty, it inhibits it from working properly and can eventually cause costly repairs.
When your air filter gets dirty, there are usually two ways of addressing it. The first is to clean it, and the second is to replace it. If you don’t know how to judge which is best, don’t worry! We’re here to give you all the information you need to make that decision.
What Type of Filter Do You Have
The question of whether you should clean or replace your air filter often revolves around a pragmatic point: what type of filter do you have?
Most people use disposable air filters, and there’s nothing wrong with that. They are more affordable in the short term and they’re easy to replace. If you have a disposable air filter and notice it to be very dirty, you should replace it.
However, if you happen to have a permanent air filter for your AC unit, this can save you a bit of money in the long run. The appeal of a permanent filter is that you can clean it rather than spending money replacing it.
Once you figure out the sort of air filter you use, the choice between cleaning and replacing becomes clear. For the rest of this article, we will assume you have replaceable filters.
However, if you do have a permanent air filter and experience any of the following issues, understand you can likely solve the problem by cleaning your air filter.
Does Your Filter Look Dirty?
The typical disposable air filter needs replacing about every 3 months, depending on the amount of input and output it undergoes. You can tell if it’s time to replace the filter by looking for dust buildup on the filter.
Your situation is more urgent, though, if you notice holes, tears, or wrinkled areas in your air filter. If you see these things, replace the filter immediately. Such a compromised air filter is certain to lead to indoor air pollution.
Please note that even for permanent filters, if it is damaged, it needs replacing. If you’re uncertain if it is damaged, it may be best to call a specialist.
How Are Your Utility Bills
A telltale sign that it’s time for air filter replacement is in your utility bills. If your utility bills have spiked from previous months and is higher than what you paid last year at the same time, there’s a good chance that your air filter is the culprit.
As mentioned above, when your air filter is dirty, it eventually impairs your AC system’s ability to function. This results in increased system strain, but also in utility bill increases.
Another Cause for Air Filter Replacement: Allergy Increases
If you or somebody else in your family notices that they’ve suffered more allergy issues, this could indicate that you’re experiencing indoor air pollution.
Your AC filter is the first line of defense in protecting you from allergens and airborne sickness. When your filters are compromised, part of the air pollution you experience could be allergen increase.
If you have a pollen allergy, you may find it helpful to keep a close eye on your AC filter during the spring. This is especially true if you have a lot of trees in your yard. The pollen they produce could make its way into your airflow.
Furthermore, if either you or a family member in the home has a condition like asthma, you will need to keep a strict eye on your air filters. The last thing you want is for indoor air pollution in your home to cause a health risk for yourself or your family.
Dust on the Walls
If you suddenly notice dust accumulation on your walls, furniture, or areas around vents, this is probably due to clogged air filters. You will most likely see the worst buildup in areas around your vents.
If you’re uncertain of whether or you’re experiencing a worse concentration of dust around vents, compare those places to others in your house.
If your air vents and the places around them are especially dusty compared to the rest of the house, it’s most likely time to replace your air filters.
When Was Your HVAC System Last Inspected
Did you know that part of your regular AC maintenance is getting your system inspected regularly? Ideally, these inspections happen every year, but if nothing else, shoot to have them inspected every few years.
If you can’t remember when your last inspection was, or if you’ve just moved into a place and it’s a good move to have your system inspected to make sure it’s in good working order.
Get Your Best Air Filters Today
Air filters are an essential part of maintaining your indoor air quality at healthy levels. If you need an air filter replacement, it’s not something to put off.