Does it seem like your AC system doesn't have the airflow that it used to have? If so, there could be several factors contributing to this. One of the most common things that will reduce the airflow of the central AC system is a dirty furnace filter. Some people don't realize that a clogged, improperly installed, or missing furnace filter will actually affect the efficiency of the heater and air conditioner. This article explains how to replace your furnace filter and clean the surrounding area to ensure that this element is not hampering the productivity of your heating and air conditioning system.
Locating and Replacing Your Furnace Filter
First, you need to locate your furnace filter. The filter is actually located outside of the main furnace cabinet. You can easily identify it because it is wedged into a small slot in between the intake ducts and the sidewall of the cabinet. The intake ducts are usually quite large, so you can easily follow them from the wall, directly to the filter. Once you find the filter, you should be able to slide it right out of the compartment. Some compartments have a protective flap or panel. However, you usually don't need any tools to remove this panel.
Pull the filter out and inspect it. If it is caked in dust and dirt, you should just throw it away. Even if it only has a small amount of dust buildup, it is usually easier to just buy a new one anyway because filters are so affordable. If your filter does look like it is brand new and perfectly white, you can put it back in place.
However, before you replace your filter, you should clean out the compartment. It is not uncommon for dirt and dust buildup around the hinges and edges of the filter compartment. You can usually thoroughly clean this area out with a basic hose vacuum. You might also be able to wipe it out with a damp rag if you can put your hand inside. Regardless, you might need to use a flashlight so you can actually see inside the compartment.
Cleaning Your Motor
If your filter was especially dirty, it is worth looking inside the actual furnace cabinet so you can inspect the motor. The furnace filter is largely responsible for keeping dust off of the motor. But, if the filter is not working, the dust can get through and clog the motor. If your motor is especially dirty, just try to clean it off with a hose vacuum and brush attachment. But, to do this, you should completely shut off the power to your furnace for safety.
As you can see, maintaining your furnace filter is not that difficult. Your filter should probably be cleaned or replaced every couple of years.