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Does a dirty air filter affect air conditioning?

Imagine, out of nowhere, your air conditioner stopped working. You wonder what has happened, but you have also never done any cleaning or maintenance on the air filters. The good news is that it is on you. You have the ability to prevent this from happening.

Air conditioners are just like any other device at home. You need to clean it regularly to get the most out of it and make it work as designed.

Given that filters are one of the most important parts of an air conditioner, they have to be maintained correctly in order for an AC system to work properly.

Remember that poor maintenance, or even worse no maintenance at all, may increase electricity consumption. Also, it can deteriorate the whole air conditioning system faster than normal. So, if you want a long, energy efficiency life for your air conditioner you should clean and maintain it regularly.

Find out how to do it and how regularly you should do this.

How do I know that the air filters need a deep clean?

It is better not to reach a point where you can see or feel that your Air conditioner needs cleaning or maintenance. However, if this is your situation and it is already too late to prevent it, look for the following signs:

  • The heating or cooling cycle of your system is taking longer than usual.
  • The filter has already been in use for more than several months without attention.
  • You notice dust in the air and inside your home in general.

If any of these sound familiar to you, please clean your air conditioner filters.  If the case is extreme, you can always contact our team of air conditioning experts to help you with air conditioner maintenance.

What are the consequences of lack of aircon filter cleaning and maintenance?

Lack of cleaning

A primary consequence of not cleaning or changing your filters is a performance reduction, meaning the system won’t work as well as it is designed to.  You may notice a decrease in the air flow and the air conditioning temperature won’t be quite right.

Dirty filters will often result in an increase in electrical energy consumption, as the system has to work harder to get the room to the desired temperature.  This means your power usage will be higher and cost you more money as a result.

You may also hear an increase in noise from the air conditioner and even notice a bad smell coming from it.

For this reason, it is fundamental to pay close attention to filters and perform proper maintenance when necessary.

Basic maintenance of the filters is simple and easy to carry out.  Furthermore, the benefits are huge compared to the problems that not doing it can cause.

Remember that the main function of air conditioning filters is to prevent impurities, particles, germs and all kinds of harmful elements from entering the system and spreading through the indoor environment.

Lack of maintenance

Consequences from lack of maintenance are more serious.

When filters are in a very poor state, the indoor unit cannot move the air sufficiently and components of the system can literally freeze up. This happens because the system cannot dissipate cold into the environment.

If the indoor unit freezes up and the system is switched off for safety reasons, the ice will eventually defrost and all the water will drip and cause the drain pan to overflow.

It is also possible for dirt from the dirty filters to catch in the fan barrel and evaporator coil so that the air expelled will be completely dirty.

But the worst consequence of them all is compressor failure. If maintenance of the filters is postponed too much and they are left in an extremely poor condition, this can affect the compressor significantly.

The compressor is one of the most important and expensive components of an air conditioning system. If we have very dirty filters, the refrigerant cycle can be affected and cause excess liquid to reach the compressor (referred to as floodback). Replacing the compressor can be the most expensive repair for an air conditioner, therefore its worth considering if is better to do a full replacement or do the repair.

Technician cleaning dirty air conditioner filter

How to clean your air conditioner filters

Filters are normally made of polyester and are the first protective barrier for an air conditioning system.

Over time, dust particles tend to accumulate in filters. For this reason, cleaning will help you improve air quality and reduce power consumption of the appliance.

Cleaning it is not hard, but it depends on the air conditioning system you use.

How to clean the air filters from a Split Air Conditioner

Cleaning Split Air Conditioners is easy. You just need to take out the filters from the unit and rinse them with water.

Never use strong cleaning products that can be harmful for the filters. Just use your hands to wash the dust out of them. Let them dry for some time and then they are ready to go back into the unit.

How to clean the air conditioner filter from a ducted air conditioner

The process is very similar to cleaning the ones from the Split Air Conditioner. The main difference is the location.  Also sometimes the filters are not washable, but disposable.

You will realise what kind you have if the material is different. In this case, you will need to replace them for new ones rather than wash them.

How regularly should I clean the air conditioning filters?

It is recommended to check your air conditioner system every two to four weeks and clean filters whenever dirty.

It also depends in the environment in which you live. For example, if you live in the city where there is a lot of pollution, you should do it more regularly than if you live in the suburbs.

Doing air conditioner maintenance

What to do for maintenance

Depending on how old your air conditioner is, you may need to run a full maintenance on it, not just clean or replace the filters.

When it’s time and your air conditioning system needs full maintenance, you need to call qualified technicians, as performing it by yourself can cause damage to your air conditioner.

For DIY regular maintenance, what you need to do is simply remove the filters and clean them.

Other than that, leave it to the experts.

If you need help to clean the filters, Ice Blast can help you with this as well as with the full air conditioning service.

In case you want to know more about the process of full air conditioning maintenance, the following are some common inclusions:

  • Full inspection of the aircon system.
  • Check filters; Remove, clean and re-install where required.
  • Check condensate drain.
  • Check drain tray.
  • Check safety drain.
  • Flush drains where required.
  • Place condensate tablet in tray of main drain.
  • Check for signs of oil or refrigerant leaks.
  • Check refrigerant charge where required.
  • Check for signs of vermin.
  • Check condition of evaporator coil.
  • Check condition of condenser coil.
  • Check belts; Tighten/realign where required.
  • Check bearings.
  • Check motors and mechanical components.
  • Check pipework for damage to insulation.
  • Check operation of reversing valve where required.
  • Check electrical terminals; Tighten/adjust where required.
  • Check air flow.
  • Check supply air temperature.
  • Check for fault codes.
  • Check thermostat/sensors; Adjust/calibrate where required.
  • Check voltage reading where required.
  • Check full load amps reading where required.
  • Check general operation of unit.
  • Make minor adjustments where required.
  • Report on any issues found.

Remember that a dirty air filter affects the whole air conditioning system and your health.  If you want to keep your air conditioner for as long as possible, you should do your cleaning and maintenance regularly and call an air conditioning technician for a full AC service when required.