Your HVAC system may be the most costly item in your home. It’s also what you rely on to keep your home comfortable year-round. To keep it functioning properly, regular maintenance is essential. And when it comes to regular maintenance, changing your AC filter tops the list in terms of what’s most important.
What Does Your AC Filter Do?
If you have a central air conditioner, any AC filters typically lie along the return ducts. The more common locations for Arizona homes are the wall or ceiling, but you may also find filters in the AC unit itself or a furnace.
The filter does exactly what its name implies: It filters impurities out of the treated air before it enters the living space. Dirt, dust, allergens, and more get trapped in your AC filter. Over time, those impurities accumulate, clogging the filter. The result is obstructed airflow, leading to an overworked air conditioner. In addition, the filter stops working as well, meaning all the dust and general ick you see on your filter finds its way into your home.
How Often Should You Change the AC Filter?
During the hottest months of the year, when it seems like your system runs pretty much nonstop, you should change your AC filters once a month. If you have reusable filters, you should clean them once a month. When the weather is cooler and the unit runs less often, you can switch to an every other month schedule. However, if you have furry critters in your home, you may want to stick to monthly AC filter changes or cleanings.
Now, let’s look at the four reasons we recommend regular AC filter replacement.
1. Extend the Life of Your Air Conditioner
A dirty filter is the number one reason air conditioners fail. That’s because the filter does more than keep dirt and dust out of your home; it also helps reduce dirt buildup on the evaporator coil.
Over time, the evaporator coil collects dust and dirt. This accumulation creates a type of insulation around the coils. Normally, we encourage insulation, but in this case, it keeps your HVAC system from operating properly. That’s because the coils absorb heat from the air that the unit then cools and sends back into the home. However, when the coils are coated in dirt and dust, they aren’t very effective at absorbing heat.
Of course, the coils still become dirty over time, even when you change your filters regularly. That’s why cleaning your HVAC coils is part of our AC maintenance package.
2. Even Heating and Cooling
When dirty air filters impede airflow, it often leads to uneven heating and cooling. If certain rooms or areas of your home are hotter or colder than others, you know how annoying this is. But it’s also a sign that air isn’t moving through your ducts properly. Sometimes that’s due to leaks in the ductwork or insufficient insulation. However, it can also be caused by reduced airflow due to a clogged AC filter.
3. Lower Power Bills
As we stated above, a clogged air filter impedes airflow. This means your air conditioner has to work longer and harder to cool your home. The result? Higher power bills.
Your HVAC system is designed to operate at peak efficiency. That means the unit runs for a certain amount of time to reach the desired temperature. A dirty filter messes with the unit’s run time (you probably notice it cycling on and off more quickly). Every time it powers on, the system requires extra energy. As a comparison, think of how much more gas your vehicle uses in stop and go traffic compared to highway mileage. Your AC experiences similar power surges when it starts and stops frequently.
This is why higher power bills are often an early sign of AC problems. But, when your unit operates at maximum efficiency, your power bills drop.
4. Improve Indoor Air Quality
Have you ever looked at a used AC filter? If so, you know they become caked with dirt, dust, hair, and more. But what you didn’t see was the microscopic gunk trapped in its pleats, like allergens and bacteria. Unfortunately, even the best filters can only hold so much. When you reach that point, all that icky stuff makes its way into the air you breathe.
If anyone in your home has allergies or a respiratory condition such as asthma or emphysema, air quality is even more important. The same is true for people with compromised immune systems, such as children under the age of 5 and adults over the age of 60. Regularly changing your air filters helps improve the air quality inside your home.
Schedule Regular HVAC Maintenance
To keep your HVAC unit operating perfectly all year long, change your filters regularly and have the unit serviced every spring. If you’d like to learn more or schedule your annual maintenance, just complete our contact form and someone will get back to you ASAP. Or, call us at 480-352-8710.