Easy guide to cleaning air filters

Anything designed to catch dirt should be cleaned often. Motorized filters will end up costing you more money to run if they're left dirty, because more energy is used to pass air or water through the filter.Cleaning air filtersis usually pretty easy. Here are some simple tips.

Easy guide to cleaning air filters

1. Air conditioner filters

  • Whether they are disposable or washable, air conditioner filters need monthly attention.
  • If the filter is washable, remove it and vacuum up as much dust as you can.
  • Then rinse it under warm running water or swirl it around in a solution of 15 ml (1 tbsp.) of baking soda and 1 litre (1 quart) of water. (Don't use soap.)
  • Rinse and then dry thoroughly.

2. Air cleaners -- tabletop, room or whole-house models

  • The disposable fibreglass or washable, metal mesh filters on whole-house systems should be changed or cleaned with warm water monthly when they're in use.
  • Filters in which the air passes through a medium, such as charcoal, should be changed annually.
  • Room or tabletop models of air cleaners may use filters that need to be changed every few months.
  • Others use ionising technology that gives dust particles a negative charge so they will stick to something with a positive charge.
  • The best advice is to follow the filter-cleaning instructions that come with your unit.

3. Home water-filtering systems

  • These systems often use activated carbon filters that tend to collect gunk. The activated carbon usually comes in cartridges that need to be replaced when they no longer work.
  • The tricky part is figuring out when they've stopped doing their job. Sometimes you can tell by the taste of the water, if the filter is designed to remove chlorine, for example.
  • Some filters come with lights or other indicators telling when it's time to change them. Others provide an estimate of how long they last on the package.
  • You might want to make sure your filtering system conforms to national standards (it will tell you this on the packaging). Then you'll know that the manufacturer's instructions for changing the filter have been tested and found adequate.

4. Keep your owner's manuals

  • Use them to set up a schedule for cleaning or changing filters on machines or appliances that use them.
  • Check the manuals for instructions about how to get at the filters (sometimes that's the hardest part), whether to replace or clean them, and how often you need to do so.
  • If you don't have a manual, do an Internet search for the company that made the appliance and either download the appropriate manual from the company's web site, order a manual online or call the customer service number.
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