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Mike Smith Heating & Air Conditioning, LLC Blog

Why It’s So Important to Change Your AC Air Filter


Anywhere you look, whether it’s a blog like this one or your air conditioner’s owner’s manual, you’ll be told to change your AC air filter regularly. Most of the recommendations say it should be done once a month during the summer, and at least every few months when your air conditioner is running less of the time. But you’re not always told why!

In our experience, people are more likely to do something if they understand the importance of it and what could happen if they don’t. So we’d like to tell you all about what your AC air filter does, why it needs to be changed, and what can happen if you don’t change it.

The Purpose of Your Air Conditioner’s Filter

While removing dust from your air does improve your indoor air quality, that’s not the real purpose of your AC air filter. If you want to really have a big impact on your air quality, you’ll need a filtering system meant for that purpose, or an air purifier. No, the AC air filter is there for a different reason: to protect the air conditioner itself.

Bits of dust and grit, pet hair, and other fibers are not good for the air conditioner. When particles work their way in, they can blanket AC components like insulation and cause overheating. They can also get between moving parts, leading to increased friction and excess wear and tear. The filter keeps the majority of these particles out of the air conditioner to prevent these problems.

Why the Air Filter Must Be Changed

If the filter develops a thick layer of dust, the system won’t be able to pull enough air through. This prevents the cool air it creates from being properly distributed through your ducts and out your vents, and you can end up with uneven and insufficient cooling. If the problem is severe enough, the lack of airflow can lead to the blower fan motor overheating and the system shutting down.

Another possibility, as your air conditioner strains to pull air through, is that it will force air to go around the air filter rather than through it. Now you’ve got the same problem you’d have without a filter, but worse for two reasons. One is that it’s probably pulling in extra dust from the pile on the filter. The other is that straining so hard is terrible for the compressor, the most critical and most costly component.

How to Change Your AC Air Filter

Some AC systems have reusable filters, and some have disposable ones. Turn off the unit and slide the filter out. If it’s reusable it can be washed and allowed to thoroughly dry before being replaced, and if it’s disposable it can be thrown away and replaced with a new one. Then turn the unit back on. If you’re having trouble with this process, consult your owner’s manual or reach out to us with questions.

When to Change Your AC Air Filter

The general advice of once a month during heavy use and every few months during lighter use is good for most situations. You’ll want to change it more often if there’s an extreme amount of dust in your home, say from many shedding pets or major construction near or in your house. And if you experience an AC problem like short cycling or poor airflow from your vents, checking the filter is a good first step.

If you need help with an air filter change, or you’re ready to schedule maintenance or any other AC service in West Monroe, LA, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Contact Mike Smith Heating & Air Conditioning, LLC. We provide “Professional grade service.”

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