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The Everyday Home: Focusing on filters

Sonya McDaniel, extension educator, FCS/CED
OSU Extension Center

Ok, the holidays are over, and it’s a New Year. Time to focus on your house.

We get it: changing the filters throughout your house isn’t the most exciting thing to do, and it probably isn’t something you think about very often (if ever!). But if you let filters go too long without being cleaned or replaced, your appliances won’t work as well, and they might even stop working altogether. Filters keep air circulating. Once they get clogged up, air can’t move through systems as efficiently, and appliances can become strained or inoperable.

So what filters need to be cleaned or replaced?  Here’s a quick list.

Refrigerator: It’s easy and convenient to get filtered water and ice through your refrigerator door, but that water and ice won’t taste so good if you don’t replace the filter in the machine every six months or so.  Filters can also become clogged, which leads to slower output and smaller ice cubes. Many refrigerators have automated reminder systems that post a message when it’s time to replace the filter. If yours doesn’t, replace the filter now and then put a reminder for six months out so that you’ll keep on schedule.

Heater and air conditioner filters. Cleaning these filters means that you’ll have less dust in your system, which makes the air quality in your house better. It also makes your appliances more energy-efficient. So that’s more money in your pocket and less dust in your air. Changing your furnace filter will also extend the life of your machine. Hint: don’t reuse disposable filters. Throw them out and get new ones.

Dryer. You know you have to clean out the lint trap in your dryer after every load, but you also need to clean out your dryer vent and duct regularly as well. This means removing the lint trap and vacuuming the inside of the lint trap housing using the hose attachment on your vacuum. Also, take a pass through the housing using the brush attachment on your vacuum to remove any large pieces of lint. Finally, pull the dryer away from the wall, after you unplug it and remove the duct joint at the back. Then vacuum the duct and insert a brush to clean out any lint there as well.

Humidifier/dehumidifier. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers have filters that need to be replaced in order for them to work properly.  Whole home humidifiers usually come with disposable filters that should be replaced every year, and small humidifiers have filters that either need to be replaced or washed when they are clogged and dirty – check the manual that came with the machine to see what kind of filter you have. Dehumidifiers should be attended to once or twice a month – not just cleaning the reservoir where the water collects and mold and mildew can grow, but also checking the air filter in the machine to determine if it needs to be replaced. Check the manual to see how to replace the filter.

Article from Clean and Happy Nest, American Cleaning Institute

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