How to Clean Your AC Filters in 5 Easy Steps

AC Filter Cleaning in Burbank, CA

The filters in your HVAC system remove dirt, pollen, pet dander, and other small particles from the air as it is circulated throughout your home. The filters are designed with fibers that catch and trap these particles. Over time, the filters get full of particles and are less effective. You may notice more dust in your home, or you may suffer from symptoms similar to allergies. These are some of the signs that your AC filters need to be checked.

How Do You Know When Your Filters Need to Be Cleaned?

In addition to dust accumulation and physical symptoms, there are some other signs that it’s time to clean your AC filters.

  • Less air flowing out of the vents
  • Higher utility bills
  • Costly repairs
  • Unusual sounds from the AC unit indicating that it is worker harder than normal
  • Uneven temperatures in your home
  • Unit runs more often to maintain the same temperature setting
  • Mold colonies in your bathroom, on window sills and walls, and on fabrics, rugs and carpeting

What Types of AC Filters Can You Clean?

There are two general types of AC filters that the professionals at Air Max HVAC service for homes in Burbank and surrounding areas of California: permanent and disposable. Permanent filters can be cleaned, but cleaning disposable filters is less effective. The fibers are not designed to withstand exposure to soap and water and break down very easily. Additionally, using a vacuum cleaner to remove buildup on these types of filters cannot reach the tiny particulates that are trapped deep in the fibers. If you do need to clean a disposable AC filter, do so with the understanding that this is a short-term solution until you can buy new filters. Other reasons to exercise caution when cleaning a disposable filter are that the filters are less effective for trapping particulates, and a wet or even slightly damp disposable filter is an ideal environment for mold growth.

What Are the Benefits of Cleaning Your AC Filters?

Cleaning your AC filter can save you money and maintain a healthy level of indoor air quality. When the filters of your HVAC system are clogged, the equipment has to work harder to keep you and your family comfortable during the summers in Burbank. A system that runs longer uses more electricity, and this affects your monthly utility bills. Additionally, the filter no longer traps particulates, and the tiny particles simply circulate throughout your home, collect on your furniture, and irritate your sinuses. Keeping a clean AC filter is especially important for households with young children, elderly people, and anyone with chronic health conditions. Poor indoor air quality has been linked to childhood asthma.

Here is how you clean your AC filter in five easy steps.

1. Turn off the Air Conditioning

Turn off the air conditioning at the thermostat. We recommend that you use the “off” setting rather than reducing the temperature. The reason that you want to turn off the unit is to prevent particles from blowing into your home once the filter is removed and while you are cleaning it. If you prefer, you can turn off the AC at the breaker panel, but this is not necessary because you aren’t working with any of the electrical components.

2. Remove the Filter

The filter of your AC unit is installed behind a metal cover with vents. Use a screwdriver to open the cover and gently remove the filter. If you aren’t sure of the location of your AC filter, check the owner’s manual of your system, or you can call the experts at Air Max HVAC. We can help you find the filter and guide you through the process of removing the cover and filter from the system.

3. Remove Superficial Dust With a Vacuum

The first part of cleaning your AC filter involves removing most of the buildup with a vacuum cleaner. You want to use the brush attachment. Handheld vacuums also work well. Gently move the vacuum attachment up and down the filter and side to side. Do not put any pressure on the filter. This may damage the frame and fibers.

4. Rinse the Filter

Vacuuming removes the dust that is on the outer surface of the filter, but there is also a collection of particles inside the filters that you cannot reach with a vacuum. If the filter has quite a bit of grime on it, you can soak it in a mixture of one part vinegar with one part water. Make enough of this combination to completely cover the filter. Leave the filter to soak for about 60 minutes, then rinse it with clean water and let it air dry. You should not put a damp filter back in your AC system. For larger filters that cannot be soaked, use a garden hose and spray attachment to remove the grime. You can also spray larger filters with the vinegar and water solution. Just make sure to put the filter somewhere that it won’t dry out before it is rinsed with fresh water. If the vinegar solution dries on the filter, you will have an unpleasant odor throughout your house once the filter is reinstalled.

5. Reinstall the Filter

After your AC filter is clean and dry, you can reinstall it. Make sure to put the filter in the right way. The sides of the filter should have arrows indicating which side is to be facing inwards. If the filter is installed backward, it will not trap particulates in the air. Replace the cover over the filter and tighten the screws.

Should I Still Replace My AC Filters?

You should continue to replace your AC filters as directed by the manufacturer. Typically, AC filters need to be replaced every three, six, or 12 months, depending on the type of filter. HEPA filters tend to last longer. You should replace the filter more often if there has been a high concentration of particles in the air outside, such as during pollen season, or if you are near a wildfire or other situation that releases airborne particles.

What Other Routine Maintenance Does My AC Need?

At Air Max HVAC, we recommend that homeowners in Burbank and nearby California communities schedule professional maintenance for their HVAC systems twice each year. The ideal times are during the spring and fall, but we can do the work any time. Wait at least six months between appointments. The maintenance services encompass all aspects of your heating and cooling system, including:

  • Electrical
  • Lubricants and refrigerant
  • Mechanical
  • Temperature control
  • Operational efficiency

Expert AC Maintenance Services for Your HVAC System

If you need help with cleaning or replacing your AC filters or any other services for your heating and cooling system, call the experts at Air Max HVAC. We provide excellent installation, repair, and maintenance services to keep your family comfortable and help you manage energy use. Be sure to ask about our indoor air quality solutions, such as humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and germicidal lights.

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