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Air Conditioner as Air Cleaner

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Forum topic by Ibuiltit posted 06-09-2019 10:35 PM 503 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Ibuiltit

3 posts in 592 days


06-09-2019 10:35 PM

Topic tags/keywords: air conditioner air cleaner question

Long time lurker (I have learned a lot!) and first time poster. I have had a dust collector in my small shop for years, but now that I have retired, I am looking at some major upgrades. Thanks to this site, I have become concerned with the small dust particles and decided to take some action. I began with a good cleaning.
The first day when I started, I saw that the filter indicator was on in my window air conditioner. As I was vacuuming the filter, I thought, “shop air through the filter, cleaner cooler air back into the shop.”

I had recently bought a merv 13 filter to start an air cleaner project, but decided to try it on the air conditioner. I cut it roughly to size and stuffed it into the front of the ac unit. I then continued to clean my passive dust collection system (all the horizontal surfaces in my shop) and take out all my wood scraps.

After three days, the filter icon lit again and the attached image shows the original filter on the right and the dirty one on the left. The second image shows the rough set-up. Has anyone else tried this? Am I going to burn out my AC unit?

I am not planning this as a permanent solution, just using it until I get the floor painted, dust collection re-routed (it is a single stage but has a 1 micron filter bag on top) and my tools back online so I can make the air cleaner.


12 replies so far

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

2080 posts in 3676 days


#1 posted 06-09-2019 11:33 PM

As long as you change the filter as soon as the light comes on, or before, you should be fine.

View ocean's profile

ocean

216 posts in 1716 days


#2 posted 06-10-2019 01:24 AM

I’ve got a shop air filter unit and I also put filters on my AC unit. Anything you can do to capture and filter the dirty air is a plus. Additionally you will save your lungs and the life of your AC unit. I killed an AC unit years ago, due to clogging it with fine dust that ultimately lead to corrosion and rust throughout the unit. The filters slow that process down considerable. By the way I also where a 3M filter mask at all times if I am cutting any wood and up to 20mins. or more after the last cut.

-- Bob, FL Keys

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Ibuiltit

3 posts in 592 days


#3 posted 06-10-2019 03:00 PM

I have always cleaned the foam filter and tried to keep the finer dust blown out of the rest. I just wasn’t sure if the finer filter would restrict the air intake too much. Thanks for your reply!

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ibewjon

2080 posts in 3676 days


#4 posted 06-10-2019 03:15 PM

If the new filter turns on the light, it is too restricted. As long as your unit senses air flow and filter change is not time based warning. Oil change light in cars is based on time, not always milage.

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

6454 posts in 1457 days


#5 posted 06-10-2019 03:34 PM


I killed an AC unit years ago, due to clogging it with fine dust that ultimately lead to corrosion and rust throughout the unit.
- ocean

When I read the OP’s initial statement to run the dirty air through the AC unit, I thought this was a very soon to happen occurrence. I don’t have a window AC in my shop for exactly that reason. Years ago I did, and it only lasted a month or so, was just jammed full, and had rusted internally to the point it crumbled. My plan was to clean it all out at the end of the Summer. I didn’t get close.

Instead of messing up a few hundred dollar machine, I would opt to put a large box fan in the window, and blow all the dust at it, and gone out the window. Even if the dust killed the fan, being out 20 bux sounds a lot better than 200 or more.

Still gonna wear my full face respirator when it’s really dusty.

-- Think safe, be safe

View TungOil's profile

TungOil

1383 posts in 1378 days


#6 posted 06-10-2019 06:59 PM

I don’t think this is a good idea. The reason is that the evaporator coil is right on the other side of that filter. Evaporator coils, by design, condense moisture out of the air and are always wet (that’s the drip coming from the unit), which will attract and hold all of the dust that gets past your filter. A filter fine enough to catch the smaller dust particles will restrict airflow to the unit, which will cause the coil to freeze. Either way, you are looking at premature equipment failure.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View pottz's profile

pottz

11711 posts in 1867 days


#7 posted 06-10-2019 08:54 PM



I don’t think this is a good idea. The reason is that the evaporator coil is right on the other side of that filter. Evaporator coils, by design, condense moisture out of the air and are always wet (that’s the drip coming from the unit), which will attract and hold all of the dust that gets past your filter. A filter fine enough to catch the smaller dust particles will restrict airflow to the unit, which will cause the coil to freeze. Either way, you are looking at premature equipment failure.

- TungOil


+1 i dont think it would be wise to use it for that purpose hence the name air conditioner not cleaner.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

5864 posts in 2270 days


#8 posted 06-10-2019 09:19 PM

A dedicated air cleaner would but better but even if you have one, it is a good idea to put extra filtration on the AC as well. Just make sure that you seal around the filter well enough that no dust gets by the filter. When it starts getting clogged, the air will try to bypass the filter. Each time you clean the filter, take a look at the coil and make sure it is clean as well. I periodically use a foaming coil cleaner on my portable AC unit to remove at least some of the dust that gets by the filter. Unfortunately, I have to remove the cover to do that but after I do, it does seem to cool better.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View clin's profile

clin

1121 posts in 1879 days


#9 posted 06-11-2019 05:43 PM

I agree that it is a good idea to put a filter in front, as long as the filter doesn’t restrict the airflow to the AC unit too much and cause a problem.

But, an AC unit doesn’t move nearly as much air as an air cleaner, so I don’t think it would do a very good job as an air cleaner. It would take much longer to clean the air and more of the dust will settle out of the air before it could be captured.

-- Clin

View Kirk650's profile

Kirk650

680 posts in 1631 days


#10 posted 06-11-2019 07:09 PM

I have a Jet air cleaner hung from the ceiling, but still have problems with window ac units. I get 3 or 4 years out of them and replace them. I wish I had a better solution.

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

2080 posts in 3676 days


#11 posted 06-11-2019 07:12 PM

I don’t think the idea was to use the AC as a cleaner, but would putting a better filter in the AC harm it. I see it as protection for the AC while setting up shop.

View Ibuiltit's profile

Ibuiltit

3 posts in 592 days


#12 posted 06-11-2019 08:21 PM

Thanks for all your replies.
I clean and blow out the unit multiple times a month and it has served me well for about 5 years. My original thought was that if large dust particles were getting through, (as I know they are because I see the buildup when I clean it) then trapping the finer dust particles as well would be better. I will be building an air cleaner as soon as the floor paint dries. I will be spending more time in the shop now that I am retired and will be making a lot more fine dust.
I am in hot, humid South Carolina and I have found out that an air conditioner is a gotta have for me.

I am also looking at collecting more fine dust at the sources.

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