As with any piece of machinery, it is important to stay on top of proper maintenance of window air conditioning units. HVAC coils, water pans, and air filters all need to be checked and cleaned regularly. The coils should be cared for annually, but the air filter is best when properly cleaned monthly.
A dirty filter can reduce the output so much that airflow can eventually become completely blocked. People often underestimate or forget about the importance of a clean filter, but this simple task can improve the efficiency of the unit, resulting in greater output and lower energy cost.
Proper cleaning of the air filter prevents freezing and uneven cooling, along with the need for frequent short cycles that are inefficient and noisy. A clean filter can also reduce allergens and even mold being spread throughout the room and building. When a filter is clean, it can properly do its job.
Read on to learn how to how to clean your window air conditioning unit’s air filter:
- To begin, the manual should be checked. While cleaning a filter is fairly straightforward, it is best to take a quick look to know what to expect.
- Gently remove the front grille. Sometimes a putty knife or a butter knife is needed to pop it out.
- Extract the filter. In most window units, the filter is located right behind the grille—it should pop out fairly easily.
- Wash the filter using a mixture of warm water with dish soap or white vinegar. The soap or vinegar blend helps eliminate mold and thoroughly disinfect the surface. Scrub gently with a plastic-bristled scrub brush to remove debris. Rinse thoroughly when finished.
- Inspect for damage. While unlikely, it is possible that there may be holes or other damage to the filter. Sometimes there could even be insects within the unit that can damage the equipment. Look over the filter and take a peek into the rest of the unit to be sure.
- Wash the outside vents and any surrounding area where dirt and dust may be collecting.
- Allow everything to dry completely before returning it to the unit. Then, simply replace everything in the proper order: filter first, then snap the grille in place.
Cleaning the air filter on your window air conditioning unit should be done monthly. In households with pets or dusty conditions—or if the residents have allergies—the filter should be cleaned more frequently. Harmful conditions can become exacerbated by a dirty air filter.
Some filters are disposable and can be replaced; however, using a reusable filter can save money in the long run. If the unit has a foam filter, it can be replaced by electrostatic filter material cut to size to make maintenance easier.
No one likes extra chores, but this one simple task can improve the physical and economic health of any household that utilizes a window air conditioning unit. Those who enjoy the cool breeze of their air conditioner should appreciate the added cleanliness that comes with proper care and a clean filter.
Albert Krav is a HVAC technician and a freelance writer from Los Angeles, California. With over 15 years of experience in the HVAC industry, he is an expert in repairing and maintaining air conditioning units and heating systems. He enjoys informing people of how to properly care for the HVAC units with how-to articles.