A critical part of maintaining your air conditioner unit is keeping the filter clean. While many units have disposable filters, there are some that have reusable, or cleanable, filters. If you're in the latter category, understanding the proper way to clean the filter will help ensure it remains in good condition, which will in turn keep your unit operating more efficiently and help you get the most use out of the filter.
Start with a Vacuum
After you've removed the filter, you can start your efforts by running a vacuum over the unit. Completing this step first can help significantly cut down on the time it takes to clean the filter, as much of the dirt and dust will be removed through suction. Just make sure the vacuum you use has a powerful filter so that the particles from the filter are contained and don't end up airborne.
Apply a Cleaning Solution
When it comes to cleaning the filter, stay away from harsh cleaners because they can damage the filter and cause toxic chemicals to be forced through the airways. If the filter is mildly dirty, gently scrub it with a mixture of warm water and baking soda. For a dirtier filter, mix a gentle detergent, such as baby rated detergent, and water to clean the filter. Once you finish wiping it down, rinse it off.
Allow Ample Drying Time
One of the most important steps in the cleaning process is the drying process. Never place a filter that is wet, or even damp, back inside the air conditioner unit. A wet filter can cause significant damage to the air conditioner unit as even a small amount of moisture dripping into the unit can cause electrical problems and promote rust and corrosion, both of which can cause the air conditioner to fail prematurely or at the very least, require major repairs.
Choose the Right Time to Clean
Ensure you're choosing the appropriate time to clean the filter. This is important because the air conditioner cannot be operated while the filter is not in place, as this will cause damage to the unit. So, deciding to clean the filter in the middle of the day, on one of the hottest days, is probably not the smartest idea. Maybe a cool summer evening where you can keep the windows open overnight to allow ample time for the filter to dry is best.
Don't make the mistake of not cleaning your filter, and more importantly, not doing so correctly. Increased efficiency and lower energy bills will be well worth your efforts. Contact a professional HVAC contractor like John Legg's Heating & Air Conditioning if you have additional questions or concerns.