You’ve been around the block several times to know that proper maintenance for your air conditioner includes changing the filters frequently. You’ve already discovered the perfect timing to do so. You pride yourself on being so responsible about it.
So why, pray tell, are they always black when you switch them? Isn’t the whole point of regular cleanings to prevent exactly this? Is the air your family is breathing really that dirty?
3 Reasons Your AC Filters Are Turning Black
Air filters trap dust and debris from the air in your home. For the most part, when you change your air filters, they should be covered in gray stuff. This is what accumulated dust looks like. If it’s black, it could be for several reasons:
There are several reasons why there would be soot in your home. If there’s a smoker in your house, or you have a gas furnace or water heater, a fireplace, a wood burning stove, and there’s some sort of issue with them, you’ll end up with soot inside your household. The same applies if you love to regularly burn scented candles.
This is not something you should be ignoring. It’s not normal for any of the above mentioned appliances to form soot. If this is happening, there’s a problem. To confirm the culprit, check the color of the flame: If it’s blue, you’re good to go. If it’s yellow or orange, the venting system is probably obstructed.
If you have a love affair with scented candles, know that lower-quality candles contain fragrance oils that do not burn well. To add insult to injury, the wick is often not cut properly. To reduce the amount of soot produced by candle, avoid placing them near a window or vent, or anywhere where the flame will flicker. Also, keep the wick trimmed to ¼ of an inch, and purchase candles with braided or knitted wicks (as opposed to twisted ones), for a cleaner flame.
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Before you freak out, we’re talking about mold that’s forming directly on your air filters. Air conditioners work by absorbing the heat from your home. The air moisture then condensates, dripping water into a condensate pan, which then siphons it outside of your home. However, in particularly humid conditions (such as a basement, a bathroom where people regularly take hot showers, or even a home during the Florida summers, that condensation can start causing mold on your filters. The best way to deal with them is to increase the frequency in which you replace those filters.
That said, if you’re concerned that you may have mold anywhere else in your home, there are things you can do to prevent it from growing – such as proper ventilation, controlling humidity levels, fixing leaks in roofs and walls, and organizing items in storage to prevent moisture from getting trapped between them. You can also schedule a mold inspection to keep all your bases covered.
It’s important to avoid mold build-up as much as possible, since not doing so can cause a long list of respiratory ailments, such as allergies and asthma.
3. Filter Material
There are many factors that determine how often you have to change your air filters, and for the most part, we’re familiar with them: the number of people living in your home, whether you have any pets, whether you have any smokers in your household. But did you know that the material of your filters plays a role in this too? Fiberglass filters have to be changed the most often, while pleated or polyester filters are of better quality and can be changed less often. It will all depend on their MERV rating (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value). To learn more about different types of air filters, click here.
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