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Your Florida home’s air conditioning system not only cleans your air, it also relies on clean air to operate properly. You need an air filter for AC units because it is the part of your cooling system that catches microscopic particles and improves your indoor air quality

But how does it work, and why does your AC unit’s health depend on it? Today, we will demystify the purpose of air handler filters

do you need an air filter for acThe Function of an Air Filter for AC Units

Your cooling system works by cycling the air. 

  1. Stale, warm air is pulled through the intake vents by the air handler.
  2. Before it enters the indoor AC unit, it passes through an air filter
  3. From there, it travels between the evaporation coils and becomes icy cold. 
  4. The cool air is sent back through your home, and the air temperature decreases.

This intricate sequence of events happens so quickly that many people don’t realize that the air was recycled. After all, the second your AC kicks on, the cool air comes rushing in. But the truth is that your cooling system is drawing your indoor air through a giant loop.

The air filter for AC units is like your window screens. It’s designed to let air flow through without allowing anything big and obtrusive. The difference is, your air handler filter has much smaller holes, and the mesh catches tiny particles like: 

  • Particulates
  • Pollutants
  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Bacteria 
  • Viruses
  • Mold spores
  • Pet Dander

It also catches larger things floating in the air, like cat or dog fur, sawdust, or dirt. That’s why when you change your air handler filter, it looks disgusting.

If not for the filter, the inside of your HVAC system would be covered in filth as it pulled dirty air through. This can cause multiple problems that will result in frequent AC repairs in the future.

What Would Happen Without an Air Handler Filter?

You may be skeptical that low air quality could have a serious impact on an AC’s function, but over time, it adds up. Without using an air filter for an AC unit, you run the risk of mucking up all the internal parts of your cooling system. 

  1. The airflow will become limited in your air ducts.
  2. Dirty evaporator coils won’t transfer heat away from the air well.
  3. The blower motor can clog and stop working.

If left alone, these parts can become so overwhelmed by pet fur, mold, and other debris that they completely break down. Spending under $5 every 3 months for a new air filter seems like a great idea when you think about the repairs you’ll avoid. 

Are You Using the Right Air Filter?

Perhaps you heard that air filters reduce the efficiency of your air conditioner. That can be true if you are using the wrong air filter. But removing them and not replacing them is the worst mistake that you could ever make. 

Air filters hurt your cooling system when they are too dense. This is referred to as the MERV rating. The density of your air filter will determine the size of the particles it will catch, so the higher the MERV rating number, the more it will pluck out of the air.

But most people don’t realize that the MERV rating is so important, and it reduces the efficiency of their AC.

When the COVID-19 pandemic came to Florida, a lot of folks decided to buy filters that remove viruses from the air. But what they didn’t realize was that the MERV rating was too high for their system.

When they installed the dense filter, their AC began to struggle because it didn’t have the strength to pull air through the tight fibers.

Most air handlers are only compatible with filters that remove basic allergens, dust, and pet dander, which are all much larger particulates. Trying to suck air through these virus-catching filters is like attempting to breathe through a wet paper bag.

Do you need an air filter for AC units you own and have questions? If you live in the Tampa Bay area, contact the experts at Action Air Conditioning. We can take a look at your AC, give it a tuneup, and tell you what air handler filter is right for your system.