Dirt can be a nuisance anywhere in your home, but one place that poses some of the biggest problems is mostly hidden from view: inside your air conditioner. Dirt buildup on your air conditioner can cause huge performance and efficiency problems, which is why you should take steps to keep your system clean. Today we’re going to help you do that by talking about the effects of a dirty air conditioner and what you can do to prevent dirt from building up in your system!

How does an air conditioner get dirty?

When your air conditioner is operating, it pulls in air from your rooms to be cooled. As this happens, any dirt that has built up in your rooms can get caught up in your system’s airflow. That dirt travels through your return ducts until it encounters your air filter. If you have a good and clean air filter, the dirt should get trapped by the filter and only clean air should move on past it. If your filter is dirty or inefficient, dirt can bypass your filter and build upon your air conditioner’s components.
Dirt can also build up on your air conditioner’s outdoor unit over time simply because it operates outside where dirt and debris are constantly blown around.

What are the effects of a dirty air conditioner?

  • Airflow can get blocked. If your air filter is completely covered in dirt, your system’s airflow will be severely impaired. That’s because your air handler will have to work extremely hard to try to push air past the clogged filter. This will greatly increase your system’s energy consumption and can also damage your air handler.
  • Your air handler can slow down. When dirt builds up on your air handler’s fan’s blades, the blades will not be able to spin as fast. As a result, your fan might not be able to operate powerfully enough to meet your home’s airflow demands. Your fan will also consume more energy while attempting to make up for the lack of performance.
  • Your cooling coils can lose effectiveness. Inside your home, your air conditioner blows warm air over evaporator coils and the coils remove heat from that air. Meanwhile outside, your condensing unit blows air over condenser coils, transferring heat from your home to the air outside. If either set of these coils has a layer of dirt on them, the transfer of heat will be much more difficult. This can impair the ability of your air conditioner to adequately cool your home and often leads to frozen evaporator coils.
  • Your thermostat can get improper readings. If your air conditioner is cycling a lot of dirt in your home’s air, that dirt can build up on your thermostat. This can cause your thermostat to give false temperature readings, which can make it nearly impossible to keep your home comfortable.

How can you prevent your air conditioner from getting dirty?

  • Get annual tune-ups for your air conditioner. During a tune-up, we’ll perform a full system cleaning on your air conditioner to remove any dirt that might have built up since your last maintenance appointment.
  • Change your air filter every month. Your air filter is responsible for protecting your air conditioner from dirt buildup. To ensure it can do its job properly, change your filter every month.
  • Regularly clean your home. By controlling dirt at its source, you can limit the amount of it that gets caught up in your home’s airflow. Sweeping, vacuuming, and wiping your home’s surfaces will all help remove dirt from your home and limit the amount of dirt that your air conditioner is exposed to.

If you have any questions about a dirty air conditioner, or if you’d like a cooling system serviced or installed in your home, contact Jerry Kelly Heating & Air Conditioning, your St. Louis air conditioning contractor. We provide service all over the St. Louis area, including towns like Ballwin, Chesterfield, and Clarkson Valley, MO.

photo credit: nomor1995 via photopin (license)

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