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ac filter replacement

The Ins and Outs of AC Filter Replacement: A Homeowner’s Guide

Having a properly functioning air conditioner is crucial for staying comfortable during the sweltering summer months. But like any appliance, air conditioners require regular maintenance and care to keep them running at peak performance. One of the most important maintenance tasks is replacing your AC filter regularly. But how do you know exactly when your filter needs swapping out? This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about AC filter replacement.

Why AC Filter Replacement Matters

Your AC system’s filter is the first line of defense against dirt, dust, pollen, pet hair and other particles floating in the air. As air circulates through your home, these contaminants get trapped in the filter, helping keep them from clogging up the inner workings of your AC unit. But over time, the filter inevitably gets clogged up itself. A dirty, obstructed filter causes a couple key problems:

  • Reduced airflow – With accumulated debris blocking air passageways, less air can flow through your ducts and vents. This strains your AC system and makes it work harder to try cooling your home.
  • Decreased efficiency – A lower volume of airflow means your AC can’t operate at full capacity. Your energy bills may creep up as your unit runs constantly to insufficiently cool your home.
  • Increased risk of damage – Excess dirt sucked into a clogged filter can reach the sensitive internal components like the evaporator coil and compressor. This accelerates wear and tear.

Replacing a dirty filter allows optimal airflow to be restored. Your AC can once again work at peak efficiency to deliver cool air throughout your home, while also staying protected from contaminant damage.

Signs Your AC Filter Needs Replacing

But how can you actually tell when your filter has become too obstructed and dirty to keep using? Here are a few key signs that indicate it’s time to swap in a fresh filter:

1. Reduced Airflow From Vents

If you notice the airflow coming from your vents seems weaker than normal, that’s a clue your filter may be clogged with debris and needs changing. Go around the house and compare the strength of air blowing from each vent. If the intensity is noticeably decreased, a fresh filter is in order.

2. Higher Energy Bills

Take a look at your recent energy bills. Have your costs for running the AC increased significantly versus previous years? If your filter is full of dirt and dust, your system has to work extra hard to provide cooling. The additional effort shows up as increased electricity usage and expenses.

3. AC Runs Constantly But House Doesn’t Cool

Listen closely to your AC unit outside. If the compressor seems to run continuously without shutting off, but your home’s temperature isn’t reaching the thermostat set point, your filter could be preventing proper airflow. With blocked ducts and vents, the cooled air can’t properly circulate. Installing a clean filter often solves this issue.

4. Condensation Around Vents

Notice water droplets or condensation accumulating around your supply vents? This indicates the cooled air isn’t flowing out sufficiently. A lower airflow volume caused by a dirty filter allows moisture to collect and form condensation. Putting in a new, clean filter boosts airflow, which should eliminate those water drops.

5. Musty Smell From Vents

Do you smell a musty, moldy odor when your AC turns on? That’s a clear signal of microbial growth in the duct system, likely caused by restricted airflow from a clogged filter. Change out that filter to restore full airflow through the ducts to eliminate the mustiness.

6. Visually Dirty Filter

Lastly, just remove your filter and check it. If it looks heavily coated with dust and particles, that buildup will impede proper airflow. A visibly dirty filter definitely needs swapping for a fresh one.

How Often Should AC Filters Be Replaced?

Now that you know how to diagnose when your filter needs changed, how frequently should it actually be replaced? Here are some general guidelines:

  • 1 month – Homes with furry pets or smokers should change the filter monthly. Lots of airborne hair and smoke cause faster buildup.
  • 3 months – Twice during the summer for homes just using AC seasonally. Once before summer, once midway.
  • 4-6 months – Typical recommendation for year-round AC in a home with average use and average outdoor air quality.
  • 12 months – Minimum annual replacement for those with very infrequent AC use and cleaner air.

Various factors impact filter lifespan. Increased use of your AC, excess dirt and dust entering your home, and decreased air quality all cause filters to clog faster. Check your filter at least monthly by the signs above to make sure it gets replaced at the appropriate time.

DIY Filter Replacement

Installing a new filter yourself is an easy, inexpensive DIY task. Follow this simple process:

Locate the Filter

  • Consult your AC manual to find where filters are inserted. Common spots:
  • Grilles along the air handler/furnace
  • Return ducts just before the blower
  • Front flap behind a hinged cover

Remove the Old Filter

  • Switch off AC power to avoid sticking fingers near live parts
  • Slide out the old filter from its slot, rails or clips
  • Inspect for buildup; hose outside if very dirty

Prepare New Filter

  • Take measurements to get the right replacement size
  • Remove plastic wrap and unbend pleats if it’s a disposable
  • Make sure airflow arrow points towards blower/handler

Insert New Filter

  • Carefully slide the new filter into the empty slot
  • Ensure it sits flush within the frame without gaps
  • Replace any cover doors removed to access it

Restart AC System

  • Turn power back on and turn on fan/AC
  • Make sure air blows smoothly from the vents
  • Check for any leaks around the new filter

And that’s it! With the freshly installed filter, your AC can now deliver optimal cooling power and efficiency. Just be sure to note the date for when to replace it again per your recommended schedule.

Calling in the Pros

Of course, if you’d rather leave AC maintenance to the experts, the skilled technicians at Turbo AC Repair are always available to assist. In addition to performing all aspects of filter replacement, our seasoned pros provide:

  • Spring and fall tune-ups to keep your system in top shape
  • Diagnosing and repairing all types of AC issues and malfunctions
  • Upgrading lackluster cooling with new, energy-efficient AC installations
  • Annual maintenance plans for preventative care and priority service

For any AC needs big or small, Turbo AC Repair has the tools, parts, and know-how to keep your home cool and comfortable, season after season. Give us a call at (281) 626-5938 or visit Turboplumbing.net today to schedule service from Houston’s most trusted AC company. Beat the heat with Turbo AC Repair!

Summary: Keeping Cool with Routine AC Filter Changes

Dirty, clogged AC filters reduce airflow, overwork your cooling system, and drive up energy costs. By replacing filters regularly when they become obstructed with dust and debris, you can optimize your AC’s performance and efficiency. Watch for signs like weaker airflow, higher bills, and musty odors to know when to swap in a clean filter. While a simple DIY task, Turbo AC Repair’s skilled technicians are always available to assist with all aspects of AC maintenance and repair. Don’t let a grimy filter make you sweat this summer – rely on Turbo AC Repair to keep your home’s airflow and cooling in peak condition!

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