AC Filter Replacement Mistakes To Avoid

If you have a central air conditioning system, then you have likely heard the advice time and time again to change your air filter. It is necessary to change the filter every month or two unless you seldom use your AC system. However, if you want an efficient cooling system, then you should not just change the filter with any variety you choose. To make sure your air conditioner runs well, try to avoid some common mistakes that others make when changing out their AC filters.

Mistake - Choosing A HEPA Variety

If you have seasonal allergies, then you want to limit the amount of pollen that is able to flow into your home. Since your AC system pulls outside air into the evaporator to be cooled, the air is likely to contain pollen during the spring and summer months. A HEPA filter can definitely remove this pollen, since it is able to trap over 99% of particles that are .3 microns wide and larger. Pollen particles are typically about 10 to 100 microns wide. The HEPA filter traps pollen and other debris due to the extremely fine nature of the glass and fiber material that makes up the product. 

However, since the filter is a fine mesh, air must be forced through the filter with some pressure. Air flow is generally slow, and this can reduce the efficiency of your AC system considerably. Also, since the air flow is reduced, the components within the AC system can heat up. Heat can create stress and reduce the longevity of components like the blower and compressor.

Instead of picking out a HEPA filter, choose a pleated air filter. This type of filter will be made with folded paper and will allow air to move freely through the pleats. Since pollen particles are quite large, this type of filter can easily trap pollen as long as you choose the filter with the correct minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating. A filter with a MERV rating above 4 will remove pollen from the air. To make sure that mold spores and fine dust particles are also removed, make sure to opt for one with a rating above 7. Keep in mind that a high MERV filter will cause air resistance much like a HEPA one, so try to avoid an air filter with a rating above 12. The 12 rated filter will remove 70% to 75% of all dust and debris from the air. 

Mistake - Replacing Filters While Wet

Many filters are considered reusable. This means that dirt and debris can be removed and the filter can be replaced. Unfortunately, if you smoke or if there are a great deal of mold spores in your basement, then the filter may not come clean when you vacuum it. You may then try to rinse the debris away. Many HVAC filters are considered washable, and you can use your kitchen or bathroom faucet to gently rinse both sides of the filter. If debris does not come loose, then you can also use a bit of dish soap and a clean rag to help clear the debris away. 

While water can and will release smoke and fine mold spores, you will need to make sure that the filter is absolutely dry before you replace it. If you place a wet filter back in the system, then mold and bacteria can grow on the filter. Microorganisms thrive in moist and warm environments, and your air ducts are likely to be quite warm during the summer months when the AC system is not running. To make sure that microorganisms are not forced through your vents, allow the filter to dry until it is no longer wet to the touch. If you want to replace the filter quickly, then use a hair dryer on its lowest setting to dry the filter. 

Changing your central air conditioning filter is one way to keep your cooling system in great shape. However, you need to make sure that you use the right filter and also keep water away from reusable ones. If you are unsure about the best filter for your home, then make sure to speak with your local HVAC specialist from a company like Arnold Service Co for advice.