What Does a Dirty Air Filter Look Like in an Apartment?

A bad, old, or dirty air filter can have a range of negative effects on the air conditioning system, from circulating poor quality air to putting additional pressure on the HVAC unit. One of the most common signs of a dirty air filter is finding dust on surfaces and furniture near ventilation grilles. If these surfaces are more dusty than those further away, it's a sure sign that the air filter needs to be replaced. A new or clean air filter is usually white, but as dust and other particles accumulate on it, it gradually becomes gray or darker in color.

If you notice a sudden increase in allergies or respiratory illnesses among residents of your household or workers in a facility, it could be a sign that the air filters are clogged and unable to filter out particulates that aggravate these conditions. The MERV rating indicates the percentage of particulate matter that the filter will remove from the air passing through it. If your air conditioner doesn't cool as it normally does or blows hot air, check the air conditioning filter first. The environment of your home and how often you run your heating or air can also affect how quickly your air filter becomes dirty.

Filters with high efficiency, which means they remove a higher percentage of pollutants from the air, will need to be replaced more frequently than an inefficient filter that allows more particles to circulate through the vents of your home or commercial facility. Usually, your home air filter needs to be replaced once every six months, with an average of every three months. If nothing is specified, you can reach an agreement with the property manager where they will reimburse you for air filters whenever you replace them. When not enough air is allowed to pass through the air filter, it means less cold air enters the house.

The air conditioning filter is not the most complicated part of an air conditioning system, but it can drastically affect your efficiency and the air quality of your home. Since the apartment circulates more air through a wider variety of units, it is possible that the air filter in your apartment will get dirty faster than one in a house. It would be easier if all air filters had to be changed on a set schedule, but there are many variables that affect how often a filter should be changed. When the air filter is dirty, it means that it cannot filter dust, pollen and other particles out of the air.

MERVs range from 1 to 16, and a higher number indicates greater cleaning efficiency because it can filter smaller particles out of the air.

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