Most air conditioners are hidden away from view, so what’s the big deal if your system suffers from a little bit of dirt buildup? Although dirt and dust might seem relatively harmless, they can actually cause some major performance and efficiency problems with your system. Today we’re going to talk about how air conditioners get dirty, the effects of running a dirty air conditioner and what you can do to keep your system clean!
How does an air conditioner get dirty?
When your air conditioner is operating, it’s pulling in air from nearly every corner of your home. That air naturally contains a certain amount of particles like dust, pet dander and pollen, and even more of those particles are kicked up into the air during every cooling cycle. As a result, the return air that is pulled into your ducts is relatively dirty.
Air filters are used to protect your air conditioner from the particles in your home’s return air. All of the air that’s pulled in by your air conditioner must go through the filter first so that particles can be removed from the air before they come into contact with your system’s internal parts.
This all works great until all of those particles start to clog up your filter, which typically happens after about a month of use. If you don’t change your filter, unfiltered air will blow around the filter and allow dirt to build up on your system. In fact, neglecting to change your air filter is one of the leading causes of dirt buildup on air conditioners.
Air conditioners can also suffer from severe dirt buildup if they are not properly maintained. Even if you change your filter every month, a certain amount of dirt will build up on your system naturally over time. During an air conditioner tune-up, Hydes performs a full-system cleaning in order to get rid of any of that dirt buildup. If you neglect to schedule a tune-up every year, however, your system will continue to get dirtier the more that you use it, and you’ll likely experience some of the problems below.
What are the effects of a dirty air conditioner?
- Blocked airflow. Your air filter is the one part of your air conditioner that you actually want dirt to build up on. But if your filter is completely covered in particles, it won’t leave any space for air to flow through it. This blocks the flow of air through your system, and your air handler will have to work extra hard to keep air flowing properly. Not only does this increase your system’s energy consumption, but it can also lead to overheating.
- Slowed airflow. One of the worst places for dirt to build up in your air conditioner is on your air handler’s fan blades. When dirt builds up on those blades, it weighs them down and makes it harder for the fan to spin. As a result, your home’s airflow will slow down because your air handler’s motor won’t be able to spin the fan as quickly as it usually can.
- Warmer supply air. Your air conditioner blows warm air from your home directly over a set of cooling coils, which absorb heat from the air. If dirt builds up on those coils, it stands in the way of the heat-transfer process. As a result, your system will not be able to remove an adequate amount of heat from your home’s air. This causes your system to produce supply air that’s warmer than usual, and it can greatly increase the length of your air conditioner’s cooling cycles.
How can you keep your air conditioner clean?
First and foremost, make sure that you change your air filter every month. A clean filter will be able to provide your air conditioner with maximum protection from dirt buildup by removing particles from your home’s air. Second, schedule a tune-up with Hydes every year. During your tune-up, we’ll clean your system and ensure that it is prepared to take on the summer ahead. Finally, you can limit the amount of dirt in your air by cleaning your house regularly. The more dirt and dust you can remove from your home’s surfaces, the less of a chance those particles will have at getting to your air conditioner.
If you have any questions about the effects that dirt buildup can have on an air conditioner, or if you’d like a cooling system serviced or installed in your home, contact Hydes, your Coachella Valley air conditioning contractor.