Without regular cleaning and maintenance, the air filter in your air conditioning unit can quickly become ineffective. To keep your air quality high and your energy bills low, it's important to check the filter status monthly. Before you start, make sure to turn off the AC unit. Gently slide out the filter and inspect it for any signs of damage, such as holes, dirt that can't be cleaned, or tears in the material.
If you have a permanent filter, such as an electrostatic one, you can clean it and reuse it for years with proper care. To do this, use a vacuum hose extension to remove dirt and dust from the filter until it looks clean. Then place it back in the unit. If you're not sure where the filter is located or if your system uses more than one, contact the manufacturer for instructions.
If your air conditioner filter is particularly dirty, you may need to perform a deep cleaning. Fill a sink or bucket with a mixture of equal parts hot water and distilled white vinegar. Immerse the filter in this solution for one hour, then rinse it gently with a hose. Once you've cleaned the filter, make sure to place it back in the unit before turning on the AC again.
Leaving it turned on without a filter can cause unfiltered air to circulate around your home and can lead to serious damage to the air conditioning unit. It can also cause your utility bills to skyrocket as the unit works harder due to a clogged filter.