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My Air Conditioner Has an Air Filter? Do I Need to Change It?

We’ve been in the business of taking care of air conditioning problems for more than 20 years. During that time, we’ve often encountered customers who are unaware that their air conditioning system has an air filter in it—one that needs to be changed (or cleaned if it’s a permanent filter) on a regular basis. Changing the filter is an important step that technicians take during annual maintenance visits. But it’s also a job you need to undertake yourself in order to help your AC run effectively and without wasting energy.

What does the air filter do?

The air filter isn’t designed to clean the air in your home (there are special dedicated filtration systems for that). Its purpose is to prevent dust and other debris drawn into the return air ducts from getting into the air conditioner’s cabinet and damaging its internal components. Dust collected inside the cabinet can cause extra friction on motors and icing to occur along the coils.

Where is the filter located?

There is no single location where you will find the air filter; it differs from house to house, and some are tricky to find—as if the air conditioner manufacturers really wanted to send you on a treasure hunt just to locate the thing. If you can locate the air handler, the air filter is usually on the intake side of the unit. You can slide the filter out of a slot in order to replace it or clean it. If you need help locating the air filter, ask a maintenance technician to show you where it is.

Why does the filter need changing or cleaning?

The filter will begin to trap debris in its fibers as soon as the air conditioner turns on. If the AC operates steadily for a month (i.e. standard summer usage) the filter will have caught enough debris that it will be clogged. A clogged air filter will restrict airflow, and this will make the air conditioner work harder and begin to drain energy.

If you need assistance with your air conditioner’s filter, or if you need to schedule maintenance or repairs, call on Raleigh Heating & Air, Inc. Our excellent technicians serve Raleigh, NC and all of Wake County and the surrounding areas.

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