Could A Bad Air Conditioning Filter Be Making It Hard For You To Breathe?

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When working correctly, an air conditioning system can be a boon for anyone who suffers from allergies or asthma. Rather than letting in fresh air through an open window, bringing with it pollen and other irritants, an air conditioner pulls fresh air in through a filter. This filter can ensure that the air circulating in the home is neither stale nor polluted.

If you've noticed your respiratory symptoms getting gradually worse again, however, it may be that your air conditioner is no longer functioning properly. This is especially likely if you've been forgetful about routine maintenance or filter replacement. So what can you do if you think your air conditioner is no longer filtering air properly?

Symptoms Of Poor Filtration

If you've noticed any of the following problems, it may be a sign that your air conditioner filter needs to be washed or replaced:

Checking The State Of The Filter

First, before you work inside your unit, be sure to turn it off; trying to remove or install a filter while the system is running can damage it. Next, you'll need to find where the filter is located in your unit. The easiest way to do this is to refer to your manual since different models are set up differently. Since changing the filter is a routine part of maintenance, it will generally be in an easy-to-access place, so you can also check for a visible access panel secured with clips or screws.

Once the filter is removed, you should be able to easily see whether it's dirty or damaged. If the filter is clogged with dust and debris, your filter is no longer helping clean your air – in fact, it's doing just the opposite.

How Should You Clean Your Filter?

Your air filter may be disposable or washable. A filter that's made of cardboard is disposable, while sturdier materials indicate a washable filter. If you're still not sure, you can always bring your filter to a local hardware store or HVAC repair shop.

If you have a washable filter, you can clear out dust by running a vacuum over the filter. Then wash it in warm water with a mild detergent such as dish soap, and let it dry completely before you reinstall it. Once this is done, be sure to keep periodically checking your filter – Energy Star recommends checking your filters monthly.

On the other hand, if the filter is extremely dirty or damaged – or if your unit uses disposable filters – it's better to replace it entirely. If you've been happy with your air conditioner, go ahead and get the same filter that you've been using. On the other hand, if allergens have been a particular problem, look for filters labelled HEPA or high-efficiency.

What If The Filter Looks Fine?

If your filter looks clear, it's likely that something else is wrong with your air conditioner. An ill-fitting filter that allows air to leak past it or air conditioning ducts that have developed leaks are two other common issues that affect air quality. If you feel confident in your skills, you can open up your air conditioner and look for leaks or damage inside.

And whether you had to clean or replace your filter or not, if you haven't had anyone do routine maintenance on your unit in a while, it's a good idea to have the air conditioner thoroughly cleaned and inspected by a professional. Keeping up with regular maintenance will help you avoid many air conditioner problems that can lead to poor air quality and higher cooling costs. To find out more, speak with a business like Borter Heating & Air Conditioning Co.