There are some very important things that you should do to extend the life of your air conditioner and keep it working at peak efficiency at all times. One of the most important things that you can do is change your air conditioner or furnace filter every three to six months.
Every home is different and there are many factors that effect how long you should wait between filter changes. Wait too long and the efficiency of the equipment will deteriorate and operating costs go up. Change your filter too often and it's like throwing money away. Considering the cost of some filters that could add up to a lot of money over time.
It is important to keep in mind that the more efficient your air conditioner filter is the more often it will have to be cleaned or replaced. For most people pleated filters will do an adequate job. These filters are ten to sixty percent efficient and some manufacturers claim even higher efficiencies.
Pleated filters should be changed every three to six months. If you live in an area with lots of dust then you should probably change your filter about every three months.
If you require more efficient air filtration you may want an electrostatic, electronic or even a HEPA filter. The more efficient the filter is the more often it will have to be cleaned or replaced.
Electrostatic filters probably offer the best combination of value and efficiency. You will pay between two to six times what a good quality disposable filter would cost but you just wash them with water when they become dirty and reuse them.
Electronic filters will never become dirty enough to effect airflow. They just become inefficient and there ability to remove dust from the air deteriorates as they become dirty. To clean these filters you have to remove the electronic cells and soak them in some like HVAC cleaner and then rinse them and let them dry.
HEPA filters are the most efficient filters available and become plugged very quickly. They need to be checked monthly and often cause too much restriction to airflow to be used at all. An air conditioner contractor will be able to tell you if it is worth trying one of these in your system.
If you are using economy panel filters from your local hardware store and getting a pack of four for five or ten dollars, you are not doing yourself, your family or your air conditioning equipment any favours. When it comes to rating filters, these are at the bottom of the list.
These filters do such a poor job you could leave one in your air conditioner for a year and it would not collect enough dust to require changing. The unfortunate thing is the evaporator coil of your air conditioner would need to be cleaned every year to remove the dirt that should have been stopped by the filter.