The air filter is an important part of any home’s HVAC system because it keeps the air free of excess particulate matter and pollutants. However, it can only do that if it is clean because a dirty filter cannot trap any more particles and is therefore less effective. That means the air filter must be changed on a regular basis in order to remain effective.
However, there are some filters that are not meant to be replaced and instead must be cleaned in order to remove the build-up of dust, pet dander, and other particulates that can affect the health of everyone in the home. While those types of filters clearly need more maintenance than the ones that can simply be thrown away, they are not that hard to clean. If you do have a replaceable filter, then you can get a replacement for it from any physical or online retailer. They have a wide selection of 24x30x1 air filters and more.
Why Air Filters Need to be Cleaned
Air filters trap particulate matter and pollutants floating around in the air and prevent them from circulating throughout the home. The types of particulates that get filtered depends on the nature of the air filter being used. Some filters only remove dust while others can remove smaller particulates like droplet nuclei, which are the moisture droplets that get expelled when a person coughs or sneezes. Those droplets are responsible for the spread of infections so their getting removed from the air is a good thing.
The effectiveness of an air filter is determined by its MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating. MERV ratings go from 1 to 16 and the higher the number, the more efficient the air filter. That means the higher rated filters can filter out more and smaller particulates than the lower rated filters. But no matter the rating, eventually a filter will trap enough matter that it cannot trap any more, at which point its effectiveness is diminished. When that happens the matter that cannot be filtered out gets circulated in the air and starts affecting the people in the home. At that point the filter needs to be replaced if it is disposable or cleaned if it is washable.
How To Clean an Air Filter
While disposing of an old filter and replacing it with a new one is clearly easier, cleaning an air filter is not particularly difficult. You just need to follow the steps outlined below:
1. Find the access vent for your HVAC system. It is usually easy to spot and will be in a large room or hallway on the ground floor.
2. Turn off the HVAC system.
3. Open the vent and remove the filter. You likely will not need any tools to do this as the vent cover will probably just have some clasps holding it in place.
4. Wash the filter using a hose. Make sure that the water pressure is not too high or else that could damage the filter. You should also spray the water through the filter in the same direction the air passes through the filter. There should be an arrow somewhere on the filter indicating the air flow.
5. Let the filter air dry completely for about an hour. You do not want to put it back in the vent while it is still wet as that could cause mold to form.
6. Place the filter back in the vent making sure that it is facing in the right direction.
7. Close the vent and turn the HVAC system back on.
How Often Should Air Filters be Cleaned?
The frequency of cleaning depends on the MERV rating of the air filter. Lower and medium rated filters only need to be cleaned about every six months. Higher rated filters trap more particles and as such need to be cleaned more often, which is about every two to three months.
Keep Your Air Filter Clean
If the cleaning of an air filter seems like too much of a hassle and you are considering a disposable filter instead, then you should think about the main advantage a washable filter gives you. A disposable filter is convenient but you have to buy a new one every time, and while air filters are not exorbitantly expensive, the costs do add up.
That is not a worry with washable filters because they last a long time. But of course they need to be clean in order to remain effective, so make sure to give your air filter a good cleaning when the time comes to keep the air in your home as pure as it can be.