ROSIE ON THE HOUSE

Improve household air by cleaning and replacing air filters

Oct 7, 2021, 3:00 PM
(Shutterstock Photo)...
(Shutterstock Photo)
(Shutterstock Photo)

One of the simplest tasks to keep your home and its equipment working properly is to clean the air filters. When we think of air filters, most of us generally think of the HVAC filter. While we will start with that one, there are a few more to add to the maintenance schedule.

Heating and cooling system’s air filter

REEIS Air Conditioning, a Rosie-Certified Partner, recommends replacing air filters once a month throughout the year.

Filters are often located in ceilings or walls along the path of the ductwork that returns air to the air conditioning unit. Look for a removable metal cover in the ceiling, or low on a wall.

1. Open the metal cover, remove the old filter, and measure it.

2. Buy a replacement filter the same size as the old one (as long as the old one fits). A good filter should run around $4.

3. There will be an arrow on the side of the filter telling you which way the airflow is supposed to go through the filter. Install the new filter according to that airflow arrow.

4. Reinstall the metal cover.

5. Remove dust bunnies from the vent with a vacuum or slightly damp cloth.

6. Dispose of the old filter.

7. Repeat the process every month because our dusty Arizona air makes filters extra-dirty. Therefore, they need to be changed more often.

8. Clean the air vents to remove lingering dust.

For a window or wall mount air conditioner, the filter is located inside the unit.

1. Turn off the air conditioner.

2. Take the cover off of the front of the air conditioner; it may pop off, or you may need to unscrew it. The filter is behind it.

3. Remove the filter. You might be able to push it out, but some models are screwed in.

4. Most window and wall mount A/C filters are reusable. Instead of replacing the filter, you will clean it. Shake or vacuum the dust off and rinse with soapy water.

5. After the filter is completely dry, place it back into the unit.

6. Replace the front cover.

7. Wipe down the front of the unit.

Mini split: Check the mini-split filters every two weeks and see if they need cleaning. Dirt, debris, and mold can accumulate quickly.

To clean mini-split filters, power down the entire system. Let everything cool down. When it is cool, take off the panel of the unit. Wipe away dust with a cloth.

Then remove the filter. With warm water and dish soap, clean both sides of the filter. Rinse off soap residue and put the filter in the shade to air dry. When it is completely dry, place it back in the unit.

Bathroom fans

To keep your bathroom fans working efficiently, give it a thorough cleaning every six months. Be sure the power to the fan is off before removing the cover. Clean the cover and the fan. A dirty fan can’t clear out moisture, which eventually will lead to mold and mildew.

Dryer filter

Always clean the lint filter between every batch of clothes. Get into the habit of removing lint from the screen, either before or after every batch. Many new dryers will automatically remind you to check the lint filter before starting up.

Vacuum filter

If your vacuum isn’t suctioning like it used to or stinks when turned on, it’s time to clean or replace the air filter. Bagless vacuums need more frequent filter changes and cleanings. Unless the manufacturer says otherwise, replace the filters on bagless vacuums every three months.

Bissell notes that foam vacuum filters that can be washed should be gently cleaned by hand with warm water and a drop or two of mild detergent. Make sure the vacuum filter is completely dry before being placed back in the vacuum. If a vacuum filter is even a little damp, mold and mildew can grow and your vacuum will stink when you use it next.

Don’t just empty the dirt canister and skip the filters. Plugged filters lead to an overworked motor, which will eventually burn out. Save yourself the cost of replacing the motor (roughly $100) and clean the filter.

Instead of tapping the filter against the inside of a trash can, clean the pleated filter with a shop vacuum. Some pleated filters have a special coating that you can damage, so be gentle with the shop vacuum nozzle. Clean prefilter screens and postfilters the same way.

If it is not already in the vacuum, insert a certified True High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter to remove invisible particles and allergens. Make sure the word “True” is on the label.

Buy high-quality vacuum bags such as cotton-lined paper bags or synthetic cotton HEPA bags. Bag capacity matters. Higher-capacity bags capture more tiny particles.

Bidet filter

The carbon air filters should last a few years or longer on most units, depending on the amount of use it gets. Some filters are designed to last for the life of the unit. Check with the bidet’s manufacture for recommendations or let your nose notify you of the replacement time. Refer to the bidet’s manual for instructions to clean or change the filter.

Air purifier filter

Some models come equipped with washable or permanent filters. These filters still need to be cleaned to maintain their effectiveness.

In general, air purifier filters should be changed:

• HEPA filters: every 12 to 18 months

• Carbon filters: three to six months

• Prefilters: cleaned every 30 days and replaced when worn out

• Permanent filters: cleaned every three months and replaced when damaged

Some air purifiers come with filter check indicators that let the user know either through an LED indicator or beeping signals that the filter needs to be replaced or cleaned.

Hair dryer filter

Avoid bad hair days. Hair dryers can overheat or shut down when lint builds up in the filter. If the dryer runs too hot or the airflow is weak, it’s time to clean the filter.

Unplug and remove the filter. Twist the filter to remove it, or you use a screwdriver to pry it open.
Rinse water from the inside of the filter to the outside.

After cleaning the filter, you probably will see the inner screen is still dirty. Use a small brush or toothpick and gently remove debris from the screen. A hand vacuum cleaner works well, too.

When the filter is dry, put it back. Plug the dryer in and turn it on to high speed. Wait a few minutes until the dryer pushes all the debris out before using it.

Litterbox filter

If your cat uses a box with a hood, Chewy.com recommends changing the carbon filters every three to four months, depending on how frequently the litter box gets used.

Though, it is really a personal preference. If you notice a strong odor coming from the unit, it may be time to change the carbon filter.

Car filters

Edmunds.com recommends that you check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommended intervals. A good rule of thumb is air filter replacement every 12 months or 12,000 miles (whichever comes first). Fuel filter replacement every two years or 24,000 miles (whichever comes first).

Remember to change the cabin filter, too. That filter cleans the air that comes into the interior through the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system. When clogged it can make the car smell unpleasant.

Check the maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual as to when the cabin filter should be changed. If you live in an area t has poor air quality and a lot of dust, it may need to be replaced annually or more often.

Water filter

Many homeowners say they can notice a change in their water’s taste if they haven’t changed the filter regularly.

For a reverse osmosis system, refer to the owner’s instruction manual. Some filters and membranes can last as long as two years, but some need replacing before that.

The same is true for refrigerator filters, but generally, most of them can last about six months.

Refrigerator filters clear contaminants by forcing water through activated carbon filters. But once that carbon gets covered with contaminants, the water passes through untreated.

Filters in pitchers or carafes often need changing every two to five months.

Join Rosie on the House every Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM. If you’d like to send us questions or comments, email mailto:info@rosieonthehouse.com. Follow us on Twitter and “Like” us on Facebook. For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program. Call 888-767-4348 with questions and comments.

Rosie On The House

(Shutterstock Photo)...
Rosie Romero, Host and Owner of RosieontheHouse.com

Seal your concrete patio for simple protection against stains, fading, mildew

Here's how to seal your concrete patio for simple protection against stains, fading and mildew.
5 days ago
(Shutterstock Photo)...
Rosie Romero, Host and Owner of RosieontheHouse.com

Inspect your holiday lights before you start decorating

The holiday decorating season is underway! With Halloween just four weeks away and Christmas not far behind, it’s time to pull out and inspect your Halloween and Christmas lights.
19 days ago
(Shutterstock Photo)...
Rosie Romero, Host and Owner of RosieontheHouse.com

Apply patience when buying new appliances during pandemic

Your remodeling project is almost done, except for the appliances. You may be ordering take-out for a while: Home appliances are in high demand and in short supply.
26 days ago
(Shutterstock Photo)...
Rosie Romero, Host and Owner of RosieontheHouse.com

Everything you need to know about how hot water heaters work

Whether you have a traditional water heater, tankless, hybrid or solar-powered, here's what you should know about how they work.
1 month ago
(Shutterstock Photo)...
Rosie Romero, Host and Owner of RosieontheHouse.com

Your guide to scheduling fall home maintenance

When September arrives, it is time to start planning your home’s maintenance projects for the fall.
1 month ago
(Shutterstock Photo)...
Rosie Romero, Host and Owner of RosieontheHouse.com

What’s the best chlorine alternative for easy pool care?

A chlorine shortage has made it more time-consuming (and expensive) for pool owners to swim. The good news: with the right chlorine alternative, you can enjoy your pool easier and make the water healthier than before.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...
DISC DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

What you need to know about spine health

With 540 million people suffering from lower back pain, it remains the leading cause of long-term disability. That’s why World Spine Day on Oct. 16 will raise awareness about spinal health with its theme, BACK2BACK. “BACK2BACK will focus on highlighting ways in which people can help their spines by staying mobile, avoiding physical inactivity, not overloading […]
...
Schwartz Laser Eye Center

How to sharpen your vision with elective procedures

Imagine opening your eyes in the morning and being able to see clearly. You wouldn’t have to wait to put on glasses or contacts, and there would be no more blurry showers nor forgetting where your glasses are.
...
Albertsons

Grill like a pro this fall with tips from Albertsons

As the weather cools and football season kicks off, it’s a great time to fire up the grill and enjoy your favorite outdoor meals.
Improve household air by cleaning and replacing air filters