Are you looking for how to clean clogged air filter of AC? If yes, we are glad you are here.

Knowing how to clean your air conditioner filters is essential for air conditioning maintenance services. Mastering how to clean the air filters will play an essential role in the functioning of your HVAC system. You, therefore, want to know how to properly do it.

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This post looks at the steps of the best way to clean an air conditioner filter.  

Shall we get right down to business?

How Do I Know My AC is Clogged?

You should never wait for signs that your air conditioner filter is clogged before you start looking for “AC maintenance near me“.

You need to clean your air filter regularly to avoid clogging it. However, sometimes, things happen, and before you know it, your air filter is already clogged. What are the signs that indicate a clogged air conditioning filter?

Watch out for these signs:

  • low airflow,
  • more allergy symptoms,
  • increased utility bills.

If you see any of these mentioned symptoms and signs, chances are you have a clogged air filter.

Steps on How to Clean Clogged Air Filter of AC

Before we go deeper into the process, let us get this frequently asked question out of the way: Can you wash air conditioner filters? It depends on what type of air filter you have. 

We would like you to know that you cannot clean all the air filters. Some are disposable, and some are cleanable(1).

So, how do you know that you have disposable filters and not reusable filters? First, check if it has a cardboard frame. Next, you can check for any writings that indicate non-serviceability. If you see these, you need to replace air filters rather than clean them. You can find air filter replacements in most hardware stores.

The steps we give below are solely for the cleanable or reusable air filter.

Let’s go.

Step 1: Turn off the HVAC Unit and Locate the Air Conditioner Filter

The first step on how to clean home AC filter should be switching off your HVAC system. Leaving it on allows unfiltered air from leaking into your living space. This will also protect your HVAC system and you.

Now, when the entire system is off, it is time to locate where the air conditioner filter is. The filter is usually near the cold air return for central air conditioners. However, you may find it in the basement for most of the United States.

If not, look in the attic, garage, storage room, or behind return vents.

Typically, with large central air conditioners, you may have to unscrew a few parts to access the air filter. In small window-mounted air conditioner units, you may need to pop off the front face of the AC unit. Slide off the front panel to access the air conditioner filter for wall-mounted air conditioners.

Note: If not sure, please consult the manufacturer’s instructions on accessing the air filter.

Step 2: Remove the Air Filter, and Vacuum Clean it

Take the air filter outside and clean it from there. This will prevent you from stirring dirt in your space and consequently deteriorating indoor air quality.

Usually, lots of dirt and debris will be caked on the air filter. Start by removing this using a vacuum cleaner and a soft brush.

While at it, ensure you vacuum both sides of the air filter.

Step 3: Soak the Air Filter in a 50/50 Water and Vinegar Solution

First, you have to carefully read the air conditioner’s instruction manual and ensure that it is right for you to do this. Some reusable filters are not supposed to get wet.

After ensuring your air conditioner’s filter is water-friendly, you can soak it in a solution containing equal parts of water and vinegar. This is good for deep cleaning. You can do the soaking in a large bucket or a sink.

Let it soak for about an hour.

Step 4: Dry and then Reinstall the air Filters

The next and final step would be to let your air conditioner’s filter air dry completely.

After it is fully dry, you can reinstall it back. Be sure to check the arrows that indicate the airflow direction. While reinstalling it back, ensure these arrows guide you to do it correctly.

You can now switch your air conditioning unit back on. Remember never to switch on your unit without an AC filter properly installed.

Congrats! You now have a clean air filter, and sure you will have cleaner air quality. While still in this cleaning mood, check out how to clean ac evaporator coils inside the house. This, too, is an essential HVAC maintenance DIY you can do to improve your indoor air quality.

Why Should you Clean your Air Conditioner Filters

There are several benefits of cleaning your filters regularly.

First, the AC filter protects the air conditioning unit by filtering dust and dirt from the air. If the dirt and dust get into the air handler, it will clog it, forcing it to work harder to cool your air. Putting this strain on your AC unit will cut short its lifespan. Therefore, the next time you clean your air conditioner filter, you are prolonging the lifespan of your entire AC unit.

Other reasons to clean your air filters regularly include:

  • lower electricity costs as an AC that works harder consumes more electricity,
  • improve air quality as it minimizes the number of allergens, dirt and dust that gets to the living area,
  • keeps your ductwork cleaner as it lowers the amount of dirt that accumulates therein. 

If you have not cleaned your AC filters in a long time, you will notice that the AC performance is gradually going down. And in this cycle, sooner or later, you will need an AC repair service. 

When to Clean an Air Conditioner Filter

When you clean your air filter will determine how properly you enjoy the benefits of cleaning a clogged filter. Knowing when to clean your air conditioner filter can help you save on air conditioner maintenance costs and energy.

So, what is the right time to clean your air conditioner filter? The appropriate cleaning time will largely depend on the size and location of your AC system. You will have to clean small indoor AC units every 30 days. Typically, these have small filters that clog up real quick. Therefore, you need to schedule your cleaning every once a month(2).

However, you may wait to clean them annually for sizable indoor air conditioning units.

The right time to clean your outdoor unit is during early spring to late summer. This is usually when the air conditioning unit plays the most significant role and would need some support.

Need a Hand Cleaning AC Filter? 

Cleaning an AC filter is a simple DIY activity. You can do this in an hour or two. 

However, you may need to call for professional AC services in some situations. 

Feel free to call us at HVAC Santa Clarita if you need:

  • Help to access your AC filters, 
  • Cannot follow up on your manufacturer’s manual, 
  • There is no performance difference even after cleaning your filters, 
  • Would love heavy-duty cleaning of your AC filter and other AC parts, 
  • Would like to perform a regular AC maintenance service. 

We would be glad to help set your AC to give you its best performance.

How to Clean Clogged Air Filter of AC FAQs

We answer a few frequently asked questions on clogged air filters and how to clean them. We hope that you can restore fresh air to your house with these questions.

What Causes a Clogged Filter?

Typically, poor AC maintenance practice or absence of it will cause clogged air filters. However, other reasons that may result in clogged filters:

  • using poor quality air filters and sticking long to a dirty filter,
  • colder than average outdoor temperatures,
  • furnace left on the “on” position,
  • many indoor occupants and pets,
  • return air vents located in dusty areas.

 How do I prevent a Clogged Air Filter?

You can prevent clogged air filters by scheduling regular air conditioning maintenance. You can clean the filters on your own, depending on the features of your HVAC systems.

Another way to prevent a clogged air filter is to clean the ductwork. Also, ensure the area around the vents and the furnace is free from dirt and dust.

How do I know if my AC filter is clogged?

If you are paying high energy bills, chances are high you could be having clogged filters. Also, if your air feels stuffy, the house is dustier, and the allergen symptoms are increasing, watch out for clogged AC filters.

What happens if the AC filter is blocked?

First, the energy and maintenance costs will skyrocket. This is because the AC unit works extra to cool your house. Then, you will notice that all surfaces in your house are becoming dustier. Next, you will most likely feel that there are more allergen symptoms which often end with severe respiratory infections.

Does a clogged air filter affect AC?

Yes, a clogged air filter seriously affects the air conditioner unit. First, the system will have to work overtime to cool and condition your indoor air. This extra work results in quicker wear and tear. If this cycle is not fixed quickly, it cuts off your air conditioning unit’s lifespan years.

Can I Clean an Air Conditioner Filter Instead of Replacing it?

Yes, but only if you have a cleanable filter. Unfortunately, most filters nowadays are disposable. If your system works with a disposable filter, you have to replace the old filter to improve your home’s air quality. If it is cleanable or reusable, you can clean it to eliminate all the dust that accumulates on its surface.

Summing it Up on How to Clean Clogged Air Filter of AC

Many times, the air filters are located in very inconspicuous places. This makes it very simple to forget about cleaning it. It is, therefore, quite common to end up with clogged filters for this reason. If you would love to keep your indoor air at top quality and monitor your energy consumption, we recommend that you clean your air filters regularly.

The four simple steps we give above will help you clean a clogged air filter as needed. If in doubt or in need of routine AC maintenance service, feel free to reach out to us at HVAC Santa Clarita.

call 661-888-0248

Contact us 24/7 for HVAC services!


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