Shopping for Air Conditioning Filters

Picture of someone changing an air conditioning filterIf you have an air conditioning unit at your home, then one thing that you should be aware of is the importance of changing your air conditioning filters on a regular basis. Typically, during months of the year when you use your air conditioning a lot, you should be changing your filter about once a month, or when it gets to the point that the filter itself appears to be covered in dust and particles. Changing your filter regularly is vital because this is what is responsible for keeping dust, contaminants and allergens out of the air that you breathe in within your own home. Without a good air conditioning filters, you could be breathing in all kinds of harmful particles that can hurt your air quality and cause allergic reactions. The air filter is also responsible for keeping your evaporator coil clean. Keeping this coil clean is one of the most important things you can do to keep your AC running properly.

When changing or replacing your filter, it is first a good idea to know about the many different types of them that are out there so that you can decide which one is best for your particular air conditioning unit.
Types of Air Filters
The first and most common type of filter is a standard air filter. These are made of spun fiberglass and have a cardboard frame. While these are the least expensive filters on the market, they need to be replaced often — usually once a month — and typically will only catch about 10% of pollutants in the air. Still, this is not a bad option for those who are looking for a less expensive filter.

Another common type of filter is the pleated filter. These have more filter material surface area because the different pieces of the filter itself are folded back and forth. This means that it can catch a lot more dust and particles and need to be replaced less often than a standard filter. Still, these will only remove anywhere from 30-40% of the particles that are in the air, though they only need to be replaced about every three months.

And finally, for those who are looking for the best way to get rid of pollutants, going with an electrostatic filter is a great option. Even though these tend to be quite expensive — they can run up to $100 each — they will efficiently remove 90% of the pollutants in the air. Plus, they only need to be replaced every three months. These use an electrostatic charge to remove contaminants in the air and make it cleaner than ever.

Also, be sure to know which filter size goes with your air conditioning unit, as these vary from unit to unit. Usually, you can find this on the unit itself or you can simply measure the existing filter before replacing it.

Regardless of the particular filter you decide to go with for your air conditioning unit, there are also a few different brands to choose from. There is the popular and well known 3M brand, which makes every type of filter listed above and can usually be found in most retail stores. There is also the Honeywell brand, which specializes in pleated filers. Finally, the Aprilaire brand is also well respected, though tends to be a little more expensive.

Replacing an Air Conditioner Filter

When replacing an air conditioning filter you should always turn off the air conditioner at the breaker panel or furnace switch. Central air units have a large blower fan usually driven by a motor and belt. These fast moving parts are located near the filter and can be dangerous if they are running or suddenly turn on.

Check your new air filter for an air flow direction arrow. Place the filter so that the air flows through it in the direction that the arrow indicates. If you’re not sure which direction the air flows through your AC unit take note of the arrow direction when you remove the dirty filter from your unit.

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