I recently asked one of my co-workers in our maintenance department if there was anything that she wished she could say to residents. After a moment and one devilish grin, she simply stated that she wished she could tell residents to change their air filters. She had taken one too many calls recently about residents’ air conditioning not working properly. Once a maintenance tech got to the home, the problem turned out to be a dirty air filter and the tenant was then charged for the service call and we can guess how happy that made the residents. So, residents, please change your air filters!
Air conditioning units are the biggest luxury item we have in our home and they are also our biggest source of energy consumption. Understanding their need for proper maintenance will not only save on costly repair bills but will also save you money on your next power bill.
Central air conditioning units have a part that is called an evaporator. The evaporator’s job is to absorb heat from the inside of our home and relies on the condenser to reject the heat coming from outside. This is how we get that nice cold air. If the evaporator’s coils are dirty, that dirt or dust will act as insulation around the coil and will essentially prevent the evaporator from doing its job. Now there is also a part on the air conditioner called a compressor. Damage to the compressor, due to poor maintenance, is very bad and very expensive to repair. Simply put, change your air filters. They will prevent all this bad stuff from happening and will keep you nice and cool all summer long. Here is a tip: every time you pay your power bill, replace your air filter.
According to the EPA, most people spend about 90% of their time indoors and your indoor air quality is actually more polluted than the outdoor air quality. There are many different options for air filters out there and they come at many different price levels. For me, I have a $20 air filter that filters everything from dust mites, pollen, pet hair, mold spores and viruses. However, our maintenance techs recommend that you purchase the thinnest, cheapest air filter you can find and just change it monthly. The reason is that the more expensive, longer lasting filters can sometimes be too thick and can actually prevent proper air flow, which in turn will leave your home warmer. If you need to get rid of other pollutants such as pollen and mold, consider purchasing an air purifier instead of an expensive filter.
So now that you have bought, hopefully not your first air filter, here are a few tips to installing that new air filter. First, find your return air duct vent. This is the vent where air pulls air into the vent rather than blowing air out of the vent. In most new homes, this vent is removable and this is where the air filter will go. If the air filter is not replaced here, it is probably near or within the unit. Once you have found where the air filter will go, turn off the A/C. This is to prevent old dust and dirt from going into the unit while you are changing the filter. Next, make sure that you have the appropriate size filter. The size is usually printed on the cardboard of the old filter and if it is not, you will need to measure. It is important to have a properly fitting air filter because you do not want any air to leak around the filter. Also, be sure to install the air filter in the direction of the air flow. Find the arrows on the filter and point them in that direction. That’s it!! See, simple right?
Remember, your A/C unit is your most valuable appliance during the hot days of summer. With a little extra attention, you will stay cool and hopefully save a little money in the end!