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Why is your AC air filter getting dirty so quickly?

The cleanliness of your air conditioner's filter significantly impacts its performance and the overall quality of air inside your home. While all filters get dirty over time and require cleaning or replacement, there are some conditions that can cause your filter to become clogged very quickly. If you notice your AC's air filter requiring frequent cleanings, there are several possible causes to investigate. Once you know why your filter is dirty, you can determine whether you need to call an expert for air conditioning repair.

1. The area around the return vents is dusty.

The return vents in your home cycle air back into the ducts and to your furnace and AC unit. If there is a lot of dust, dirt, or pet danger around the return vents, these contaminants can get pulled into the ducts and end up in your air conditioner's filter. Fortunately, it is fairly easy to fix this issue. You can help keep dust and debris away from your AC unit by cleaning the area around the return vents on a regular basis. A damp cloth can pick up dirt and dust on the vents themselves.

2. You are using an incorrect filter.

There are several different types of air filters for AC units, and it is essential to make sure you are using the right kind. Installing the wrong kind of filter in your AC unit can increase the need for cleaning and even degrade the performance of your air conditioner. Some types of inexpensive filters have short lifespans and become clogged quickly. Investing in a high-quality filter that fits your AC unit's specifications can prevent you from having to clean or replace it too often.

3. You are running the fan constantly.

In most cases, there are two different modes you can choose for your AC system: On and Auto. If you use the Auto setting on your thermostat, the fan will only run when your AC equipment is actively cooling. The On setting causes the fan to run all the time, which means air is continuously circulating throughout your home. While this may help regulate the indoor temperature, it can also cause the AC air filter to become clogged more often.

4. Your air ducts have leaks.

If there are cracks or leaks in your home's air ducts, your AC will have to work harder to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. The more time your air conditioner spends running every day, the faster the air filter will pick up dust and debris. Your filter may gather even more dirt if the air duct leaks are close to the AC unit. Leaks also cause moisture build-up in the ducts which can be a breeding ground for mold inside your home. Getting leaks fixed quickly will reduce the load on your AC system, keeping the filter cleaner and your energy bills lower.

5. Your home has lots of potential contaminants.

The rate at which your air filter becomes dirty depends on how much dust and particulate matter it needs to filter out of your home's air. If you have a lot of people living in your home or several pets, there is simply more debris in the air that the filter needs to catch. Your filter can also get dirty quickly during construction when there is more dust than usual in the air. Knowing the common air pollutants that lodges in your air ducts and affect your air quality can help you mitigate their effects and plan a safer approach for your home renovation projects.

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