Here in south Florida, having a well-running AC unit isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. But, air conditioners do more than just cool the air in your home, they “condition” it—meaning the filters work to remove allergens and a variety of pollutants from the air in your home. A well-maintained unit with regularly cleaned or replaced filters will reduce indoor pollution, which is a major health benefit, particularly for those who suffer from seasonal allergies or asthma. However, a system that isn’t regularly maintained and runs with a dirty filter can actually do more harm than good.
All of the allergens and pollutants that the system filters out from the air, such as pet dander, dust, and pollen, can easily build up within your home’s vents and recirculate back into the house. Also, especially in south Florida, AC units can accumulate and grow mold as they remove moisture from the air.
The list below provides some tips for keeping your indoor air clean and healthy:
- The filter matters: When purchasing filters, quality does matter. Look for one with at least a MERV 8 rating to trap more microscopic particles, which reduces indoor allergens. Make sure you check your filters monthly and replace them no less than every three months.
- Keep it clean: Just like you do your other appliances, clean your air conditioner (both inside and out). Remove the vents and back of the unit, if necessary, to clean away any built up dust or mold within the air handler and duct system. Be sure to vacuum, sweep, and dust the areas around the indoor unit. In addition, clear any dust or yard debris away from the outdoor unit. Keeping both units clean of dust and debris will go a long way to keeping excess allergens from getting in your home.
- Dust first: When doing your regular cleaning, don’t forget about your registers and return vents—and be sure to clean these first, using a damp rag, to keep the dust from recirculating in the air.
- Ventilation is key: Although we all try to “keep the cool air in,” keeping the home constantly closed up can potentially allow for the buildup of indoor air pollution. Opening the windows and turning of the AC on cooler days will help ventilate your home and ultimately keep the air cleaner and free of dust and other allergens.
Well-maintained air conditioners will do more than keep you comfortable during the upcoming summer months—they help keep you healthy as well.