There are certain kinds of air conditioning filters which are specially constructed to be reusable, but unless you are certain that the air filters in your cooling system are of this type, you should not assume that it’s safe to clean and reuse them at maintenance time. Unless your filters are purposely built for reuse, you should simply remove them from their place in the cabinet, discard them, and put brand-new ones in place.
New air filters can be purchased at home improvement shops or from your local HVAC contractor, and if you’re the kind of person who’s uncomfortable with doing home maintenance, you can even have your HVAC repair technician in Gilbert, Scottsdale, Chandler, Tempe, or Mesa do it safely for you. Here’s why it’s important to not reuse ordinary filters.
Cleaning is inadequate
From one maintenance period to the next, your air conditioning filters trap a great many kinds of contaminants and other debris, and these particles are often trapped well below the surface, in the fibers of the filter. No amount of surface cleaning or vacuuming is going to touch the dust, pollen, and dirt particles at this inner portion of the filter. Instead, these pollutants will create a kind of barrier which prevents the passage of air through the filter, thus making your air conditioner less efficient, or possibly even damaging it.
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Mold and mildew might develop
Your cleaning efforts may leave the surface area of an air filter wet, because they are not built to shed any of the moisture that gets on them. Since the moisture is retained over a period of time, it can easily promote the growth of mold or mildew, which would then be passed on to every room of your home where the duct work carries it. Even if mold and mildew do not develop, a wet filter is far less efficient at trapping pollutants than a dry one.
Handling is bad for filters
Cleaning efforts may be well-intentioned, but they can easily damage the integrity of the filter’s construction. For instance, slapping the filter against a hard surface to remove visible dirt and debris can cause damage all by itself. Attempting to pick things out of the filter can also compromise the somewhat delicate construction of the fibers, and if you should tear a hole somewhere in the fibers, the filter simply cannot be as efficient or effective as it originally was.
While it is safe to clean and re-install filters designed for re-usability, it should be remembered that in order for them to be really effective, they should be cleaned frequently, even as much as every month. When they’re not being cleaned often, all the particles which they extract from the indoor air, slowly begin to clog the filter and reduce its efficiency – which means the longer the time between cleanings, the less efficient will be your air conditioner.