3 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Air Conditioner Filters

Hopefully, you know that your air conditioner has a filter, and that you need to clean it or change it regularly to maintain the health of your air conditioner. But what else do you know about the devices that are filtering the air that you breathe? Probably not as much as you think.

Learning more about how filters work can help you decide which ones to buy, understand why it's so important to remember to change them, and learn how you can use them to improve the atmosphere in your home. Take a look at some important facts about air conditioner filters.

Air Conditioner Filters Are Not Air Quality Devices

It's easy to believe that air filters are meant to keep particles out of the air you breathe, and even the advertising and packaging for air filters suggests that their purpose is to improve your air quality. But the truth is, air quality is not the main reason you need a filter. The filter's purpose is to keep the particles away from the inner workings of the air conditioner.

Expensive high efficiency filters can actually slow the airflow down enough to cause the condenser coil in your air conditioner to freeze. This is the same thing that happens when your filter is too dirty, which means that high efficiency filters can essentially create the very problem that they're meant to solve.

Your air conditioner is better off with an inexpensive fiberglass filter or a permanent, washable electrostatic filter. If you're concerned about your indoor air quality, you'll be better served by making sure that your filter is cleaned or replaced regularly than by buying high-efficiency filters.

Air Conditioner Filters Are More Important Than You Think

Air conditioner filters may not be the be-all and end-all of indoor air quality, but they do serve a vital purpose. If you've ever put off changing or cleaning the air conditioner filter, thinking it's not an important chore, you should be aware that the filter can actually make or break your air conditioner. You know that allowing the air conditioner filter to get too dirty can result in freezing the condenser coil. But that's not the end of it.

A dirty filter can also cause your air conditioner to break down completely. When there is enough dirt in the filter to impede the airflow, your air handler motor will have to work harder to bring your home down to the proper temperature. At first, this will do little more than raise your electric bill. But as time goes on, and your motor works harder and uses more power, it will begin to overheat.

If allowed to go on long enough, this overheating will eventually burn out the motor, and it will need to be repaired, if not replaced altogether. Keep that in mind the next time that you consider putting off replacing or cleaning the air conditioner filter.

Your Air Conditioner Filter Can Function As An Air Freshener

If the air in your home has been smelling less than optimal lately, the air conditioner filter is the first place you should look for the source. A dirty air filter, or an air filter that's gotten wet, can be a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and unpleasant-smelling bacteria. If the filter smells or is wet, change it, even if it's not the scheduled replacement time yet.

However, even if your air filter isn't the source of the scent in the air, you can use the air filter to improve the smell in your house. The next time that you get a new air filter, or clean your permanent air filter, try sprinkling the filter with several drops of vanilla extract, or another fragrant extract that you like, such as lemon or almond. Don't overdo it—a saturated filter won't do you any good. By applying several drops of extract to the filter, the air that goes through it can pick up the scent and give your home a pleasant and sweet odor that's more subtle than your average air freshener.

If your air conditioner overheats, smells unpleasant, or causes your electric bill to skyrocket even though you've replaced and maintained your filter, you may have a deeper problem with your air conditioner. Click here for more info on how to contact a local air conditioner repair company for an in-depth examination of the problem.