What the Filter In an Air Conditioner Really Does

Posted on: 18 August 2022


You know you have to change the air filter in your air conditioner every so often, and when you remove the old filter that's covered in dust and lint, it's a relief to get that fresh, clean air filter into the vent. However, if you're changing it only when it's caked with dust, you need to start changing it more frequently. The filter plays three roles in making your life more comfortable.

Dust Removal

At its most basic, the air filter has to remove dust from the air that is being sucked into the vent for the air conditioner. If the dust is not trapped and removed, two things can happen. One is that the dust makes it through the system and gets blown out into the rest of your home, which just makes things messy. The other is that the dust doesn't make it through the system and instead clogs up the air conditioner. Both are bad, so you need that filter to stop dust from entering the air conditioning system.

Health Improvement

Along with simple dust removal comes health improvement. As the filter traps the dust, it also traps pollen, paint fume particulates, bacteria, and other polluting particles, depending on the type of filter. Your health can be improved greatly if these were bothering you before. In fact, during allergy season, you may want to change the air filter more often even if it doesn't look like it needs to be changed yet just to make it easier for the air filter to trap yet more pollen. You may notice an improvement in your allergies, especially if you're dusting and vacuuming often.

Air Quality Monitoring

Your air conditioner's air filter isn't going to give you an AQI number so you can monitor the specific air quality index. But as you change the filter, and as you note how often you have to change the filter, you'll notice that the dust can give you some clues as to what's going on. For example, if there is a brushfire sending smoke and ash over your neighborhood, you'll need to change the air filter more often because it will become clogged more quickly with all the ash it traps (no matter how well you seal your home, some ash will still sneak in). If you notice less and less clogging and find you don't have to change the filter as often as you have been, that's a sign that the ashy, smoky air is getting better.

Your air filter is just one part of the air conditioning system, and much of the system is not as easy to maintain as the filter. Call an AC repair company if you've noticed the system not working as well as it should.