If you have an air conditioner installed in your home, inside it you’ll find the filter, a component that acts as the first point of contact for the air that enters an air conditioning unit. The basic function of this filter is to protect the inside of the unit from the dust and other contaminants that are found in the air, including hairs, pet dander and fibres. As the air passes through the filter, this dust and dirt gets caught to stop it from entering different parts of the system.
After time, filters accumulate a substantial amount of this dust and dirt, effectively clogging the entrance to the unit’s interior. If the normal airflow is blocked, then air might be forced to enter the unit via a different route which can lead to unwanted dust and dirt reaching areas of the air conditioner and causing issues. That’s why filter maintenance is important because when it is left unchecked, it can reduce the system’s performance and the comfort of the air in your home.
In this article, we’re going to look at the importance of regular filter maintenance, and to do so we are going to focus on the wall-mounted type unit that most households use for air conditioning. We will look at:
- 5 reasons to clean and change your unit’s filter
- How often you should clean your air conditioner’s filter
- Basic advice on how to clean a filter
- Hitachi Innovations that help keep your unit clean
During the year there are key moments to clean or change your air conditioner’s filter. These coincide with the seasons, especially in the weeks running up to summer and winter. Why is the turning of the season the best time to tend to your filter? Because this is when they are used more frequently, especially when cooling is required, and so keeping the filter clean will ensure that your unit is able to perform as efficiently as possible.
Of course, if you’re going to be checking your filter, you can take the opportunity to check your air conditioner in general. But today we are focusing on the filter alone.
In fact, out of the different maintenance tasks, routinely cleaning or changing the filter is one of the more important tasks to commit to, and here’s why.
5 Reasons to Clean and Change your Unit’s Filter
Let’s take a look at what can happen if you skip regular maintenance and the impact it can have on various aspects of your air conditioner’s performance.
As mentioned above, the main function of the filter is not to remove particles and allergens from the air, but to stop dust, dirt and hair reaching the different components within your air conditioner to ensure the best air conditioning experience possible. By having a cleaner filter, you are actually helping protect the rest of the air conditioner and minimize performance issues developing like restricted airflow and increased energy consumption.
Clogged filters contribute to inconsistent temperatures in the space the unit operates in. It weakens the power of the air leaving the system, meaning your space may not get the amount of air necessary to cool or heat as desired.
Air Quality and Odors
If a filter is covered in excessive dust and grime, and with condensation forming inside the unit, the chances of mold and mildew growing on the filter increases. Then, as the air passes through this mix of dust and mildew it will end up being contaminated by microscopic particles. This can result in the air that leaves your air conditioner smelling musty, turning your indoor environment into an uncomfortable one.
So, having a dirty filter not only restricts airflow but can directly reduce the quality of the air.
More than just unpleasant odors, the mold and mildew growing on your filters could move to other areas and ‘infect’ the rest of the unit. The more mold, the more your health is at risk.
Air conditioners use fans to blow the air back out into the room and ensure it circulates efficiently. If there is a buildup of mold in your unit, this could lead to spores being carried throughout the space. According to the WHO, people occupying spaces where mold is present, “are at increased risk of experiencing health problems such as respiratory symptoms, respiratory infections, allergic rhinitis and asthma”.
By regularly cleaning and changing your filter, you can reduce the risk of having air full of impurities being circulated around you and those you live with.
The Unit’s Life Span
Over time, not only does a filter become clogged but it deteriorates, letting dust and dirt pass to other areas inside your air conditioning unit. If this is left unchecked, the reliability of your unit is at stake and it might suffer breakdowns which will require the attention of a professional technician, which costs money. While this might be solved, repeated wear and tear will take its toll and the life span of your unit will shorten. Keep it clean to enjoy your unit for longer.
How Often Should You Clean Your Air Conditioner’s Filter?
We recommend that you check your air conditioner’s filter regularly, cleaning it every 3 - 6 months depending on your location and frequency of use. However, households on the ground floor of a building or those that include smokers, pets or people susceptible to allergies, might need to clean the filter more often, or even change the filter completely.
How do you Clean the Air Conditioner’s Filter?
- For this article, we are using the wall-mounted type as our example and we will do the same for sharing the basic tips to keep in mind when cleaning your filter.
- Make sure the unit is switched off
- Hold both sides of the front panel and gently open it, allowing the panel to swing upwards
- Locate the filters and remove them by pulling them towards you, out of the unit
- Wash the filters using just room temperature water. Using any detergents might cause filter deterioration
- Leave the filters to dry in a shaded place in the house. Exposure to the sun or excessive heat might cause them to shrink. Also, be sure that the filters are completely dry to avoid any issues with mold or mildew
- Once dry, gently push the filters back into place, making sure the 'FRONT' mark is facing the front and close the front panel
- Turn the power back on and your unit is ready to be used again
Hitachi Innovations for a Cleaner Air Conditioner
At Hitachi Cooling & Heating, we are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to improve our client’s experience of air conditioning, whether through simpler control options, increased energy efficiency or ways to make our units more convenient.
For those wanting to enjoy a function that provides deeper cleaning automatically, we created FrostWash, our patented freeze technology that uses ice to trap and melt away impurities that can buildup on your air conditioner’s heat exchanger.
Aside from helping to keep your unit’s interior fresh and clean, FrostWash is also convenient. After a set number of operating hours have been reached, FrostWash initiates automatically, removing the accumulated dirt from the surface of the heat exchanger and washing it away. However, it can be activated manually, depending on what works best for you and your household.
Of course, the air conditioning systems found in commercial buildings will require regular maintenance but these are generally larger and so an HVAC specialist will be required to come in and clean it.
For more information on how to clean and/or change your air conditioners filter whether wall-mounted or different type of system, you can either consult the manual that came with the system or search for the model on our website and download it.
If you’re interested in knowing about different products within our range and their capabilities, get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help you with your query.
Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air Conditioning