Dirty Filter? Cleaning Air Filters in 5 Simple Steps

Cleaning Air Filters

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Did you know that 90% of American households have air conditioning?

You want your air conditioner to operate for as long as possible. An air conditioning system is a major home investment that you must protect at all costs. To promote your air conditioner’s longevity, make sure to clean the filters.

So, what do you need to start?

Luckily, we have a guide to cleaning air filters. These are some of the steps you can follow even without expertise. Read on and maintain your air filters now.

Steps to Clean a Central Air Conditioner Filter

Your central air conditioner is a vital part of your AC system. We’ll walk you through the steps to clean this component. Take note: this only applies if you have a reusable filter.

If your filter is disposable, replace it while cleaning. Otherwise, here are five steps you must do.

1. Look for the Air Filter

Central air conditioner filters are often near the cold air return. The majority of American households have this component within your basement. Some units will have different filter locations like the garage or storage rooms.

Your return vents may also have filters behind them. Here, you’ll have to search your entire house because they’re scattered around your abode.

2. Turn the Power Off

After you locate the air filter’s location, you must turn the AC unit off before starting. Make it a habit whenever you do some maintenance tasks on your unit, as this will protect both you and your air conditioner.

3. Vacuum the Filter

Before vacuuming, you must remove your air filter first. If you haven’t cleaned your unit for a long time, expect a good amount of dust on the filter. The good news is that using a vacuum with a bristled attachment can remove the majority.

This is an easy task, but the caveat is that you must do this to all AC filters, including filters located behind the returns. Vacuum either side of the filter to prepare it for the next step.

4. Use a Water and Vinegar Mixture

Mix equal parts of water and vinegar and soak your air filters in it. Before doing it, look for your filter’s manual. It’s either a separate paper handbook or printed on the unit.

Some filters aren’t waterproof. If your filter isn’t one of these, let the unit soak for an hour. Dry it out before reinstalling.

Is your filter too big for your home’s basin? Use a hose to clean it instead.

Watch the pressure and keep it low. Intense water pressure can rip through the filter with ease.

5. Reinstall the Filter

Before you put the filter back on, ensure that no dust or debris remains. It’s not that difficult because most filters have an indicator arrow.

This should be enough to know the right filter orientation. Use the arrows as a guide to direct airflow in the right direction.

How to Clean a Ducted Air Conditioner Filter

Now you know the steps toward a clean air filter for the central AC unit. This makes it easier to clean your ducted units. If you have unforeseen problems, contact the nearest HVAC company in your location.

1. Look for the Air Filter

The primary difference between a ducted unit and a central AC unit is the location of the filter. Look at the main return air duct of your ducted AC unit. You’ll find the filter behind it.

2. Turn the Power Off

As mentioned above, shutting the AC unit off is important. It helps prevent damage to your filter and unit. Worse, you might get injured and spend more money on medical bills.

3. Vacuum and Soak the Filter

Follow the same step as discussed on the central AC filter above. Leave the filter to dry before reinstalling it. All reusable filters are okay to vacuum, but check if the one you have is waterproof.

After that, reinstall your filter. Turn the air conditioner on and see whether it works. You can also get a new return air filter grille as an alternative.

How to Clean a Window Air Conditioner Filter

This process isn’t so different compared to other AC systems. However, you must first check whether your filter has mold or mildew. If so, it means your filter may need a more thorough cleaning.

1. Unplug the Air Conditioner

Turning the power off for window air conditioners is more critical because you’ll work closer to its moving components. The AC units discussed above have distant components, making them safer to work on.

2. Remove the Front Panel of the Unit

Doing so allows you to access the filter. To do this, remove the mechanism holding the panel in place. This can either be screws, pressure, or plastic clips.

After removing the panel, you’ll spot the filter right away.

3. Vacuum and Wash the Filter

Before you do, never forget to read the instruction manual. Doing so ensures water won’t damage the filter. If it’s musty, it’s a sign of moisture problems.

After cleaning the unit until it’s spotless, let it dry. Return the filter and install the front panel to cover it. This finishes the job, and you’ll now have cleaner air.

Why Clean Your Air Conditioner Filter?

Filters trap dirt and other debris circulating in your home’s air. When it gets clogged, your AC unit must work harder to distribute air.

It lowers your home’s air quality while using more electricity. Plus, it can also shorten your AC unit’s lifespan.

Start Cleaning Air Filters Today

These are the steps you need to take to clean your home’s air conditioner filters. These steps will work depending on the type of AC system you have. Use these to motivate you to start cleaning air filters as soon as possible.

Are you looking for more home maintenance tips? Check out our other blog posts for more tips on keeping your home in the best condition.