If you own a central air conditioner, you probably want to keep it running as smoothly as possible. Air conditioners provide necessary relief and comfort during the hottest months of the year, but they can also be sources of confusion and stress if they are not running correctly. An air conditioner that is running improperly may deliver poor energy efficiency or experience premature wear and tear that can result in costly mechanical breakdowns. Some of the most critical components in any central air conditioner are filters, which protect your AC from numerous potential issues when they are fresh and clean enough to do their job. In the following paragraphs, we’ll delve into exactly why central air conditioner filters matter so much and tell you how you can care better for yours.
How Central Air Conditioner Filters Work
The filters in a central air conditioner are small and replaceable, but they are responsible for safeguarding the innards of your air conditioner from numerous unwanted materials that can have an adverse effect on them. Filters prevent dust, dirt, and other debris from entering the system where they can linger in the ductwork and eventually build up into more significant problems. To understand exactly why filters matter so much, it is worth taking a closer look at the issues that can occur if the filters are not working efficiently. Below, we’ll examine the various issues your air conditioner may present if its filters are not functioning.
Common Problems Caused by Dirty Central Air Conditioner Filters
These are some of the headaches you can look forward to without fresh, clean filters. Ensure that you understand each of these issues so that you will be motivated to avoid them.
- Poor air quality, which can exacerbate allergies in sensitive members of the household. If enough contaminants enter the system, they can prevent it from blowing clean air throughout your building. As a result, the quality of the air entering your home will be inadequate, and it may even contain allergens that can provoke adverse reactions from those who ingest them. If this problem persists for long enough, it can even cause a mold problem to develop in your ducts.
- Inconsistent cooling, which will prevent you from becoming truly comfortable as you run the system. If your system cannot provide enough cool air because of a blockage in its ducts, you will not be able to achieve the temperature you want without spending too much energy to be cost-effective. Remember, the harder your air conditioner works, the more you will have to pay for the results it produces. If it must work harder than usual just to cool your home adequately, you may be paying a more than reasonable amount for what you end up feeling.
- Frozen coils, which must be replaced and are often extremely expensive. Frozen coils occur when the filters become too dirty to allow the cool air to exit the unit. As a result, the cold air can lower the temperature inside the system and prevent warm air from flowing across your evaporator coils well enough to regulate their temperature. Your coils will then freeze, preventing your system from operating correctly until you replace them.
- Short-cycling as the lack of airflow in the unit causes it to malfunction. When there is not enough air flowing through your system, the thermostat may not register the temperature correctly. As a result, it will have to work too hard and turn on and off with higher frequency than is required. This process is called short-cycling, and it will eventually lead to significant wear and tear on many components in your system—including but not limited to the compressor. Short-cycling will also cause the unit to be less than efficient, which will drive up your cooling costs by large margins.
How to Take Care of Your Central Air Conditioner Filters
When you want to ensure that your air conditioner will remain free from the problems listed above, you should change the filters with some regularity. It is recommended that HVAC owners change filters at least once per month when they are using them, and always ensure that fresh filters are in place before starting the system for the first time each season. As an alternative to disposable filters, electrostatic filters may also be used. These are reusable and easy to clean, making them an attractive option for homeowners who prioritize sustainability. However, electrostatic filters may be less effective at keeping out certain toxins than standard ones.
Learning why your central air conditioner filters are important and how to take care of them properly can provide you with major advantages overall. Keep this guide handy and use it to protect yourself from any of the symptoms listed above.