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Clean or replace heavy equipment air filters – which is best?

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Owners and operators of heavy equipment constantly need to get the most out of their machinery. Whether it’s on the farm or construction site, keeping equipment running efficiently can have a significant impact on the bottom line.

One of the ways heavy equipment owners can improve machinery performance is to make sure the air filters that protect diesel engines are clean and effectively preventing dust, dirt and grime from making their way into the rest of the engine and its components.

Unlike some of those other parts and components, though, air filters can in fact be cleaned to increase how well they catch contaminants and ensure only clean air is fed into the engine. However, there is no shortage of advice out there from filter and equipment manufacturers that advise against cleaning and instead opting for buying and replacing air filters with brand new ones.

While that advice is not always inaccurate, the truth is that heavy equipment owners can save money and maintain high levels of engine performance by simply cleaning air filters with a safe product that won’t damage the filter itself.

Still, it can be hard to know exactly what the right route is: should you clean the air filter or opt for a brand new replacement. Here is some advice that should help you make the best decision for your equipment and machinery.

How air filters protect diesel engines

Diesel engines require clean air in order to work correctly. Air filters are the first and primary line of defense that protect engines and all of their many components from becoming dirty.

Air filters for most modern heavy equipment diesel engines are two-stage filters. The filter cleans the air that is sucked into the engine before it gets to the combustion chamber.

Two-stage air filters actually have two filters, an inner filter and an outer filter. The inner filter is more of a backup to the outer filter should the outer fail. It’s the outer filter that keeps dust and dirt, more specifically silica, from getting into the engine.

If an air filter fails to do its job, dust and dirt can build up. When that happens, parts of the engine will either begin to decrease in efficiency, making the entire engine work harder and burn more fuel than is ideal, or the parts will fail entirely. In the latter scenario, the only fix is often expensive repairs.

This is why it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on how clean or dirty an air filter is and clean or replace the filter at the appropriate time to protect your equipment and machinery. To make monitoring how dirty an air filter is and how well it’s working easier, most equipment have gauges – or you can have gauges installed – that will notify you when an air filter is too dirty.

The benefits of a clean air filter

As we have already noted, at the end of the day, a clean air filter can save equipment owners time and money that could otherwise be spent at a mechanic.

Air filters can also save owners money because, when clean, the filter will increase the engine’s fuel efficiency. Clean filters also place less stress on the engine, as it does not have to work as hard. Not only does this have short-term benefits, including better operation and fuel economy, but it also extends the life of the engine and its parts.

When to clean an air filter

With those cost savings and other benefits in mind, it should be clearer now why having an air filter that is clean and in good condition is so important. In fact, keeping the air filter clean is one of the simpler preventative methods for keeping equipment in good working order and preventing too many stops at the repair shop.

But how do you go about cleaning an air filter? Well, first, if your equipment’s gauge is signaling it’s time to clean, or you notice a considerable amount of dirt buildup when inspecting the filter yourself, then it’s likely a good time to clean the filter.

You should be aware, though, that some dirt on the filter will actually help it collect more dirt and dust before it can reach the engine. Only clean the filter when either your gauge, inspection or knowledge of how well the engine should be operating indicates that the filter has become too dirty.

When to replace a filter

While cleaning an air filter is our recommended suggestion, it is true that the filter will eventually reach the end of its useful life. This is when purchasing a brand new filter is the best choice.

You will likely notice when cleaning an air filter no longer improves engine performance. In this case, there likely won’t be any improvement in performance even after the filter has been cleaned.

Replacing is the only option at this point.

How to clean diesel engine air filters safely

Cleaning an air filter with plenty of life left is always the best option for the bottom line.

To clean the filter, you first need to remove it from the machinery. Locate the filter housing and disconnect the filter.

Once the filter is out, you can use our Filter Blaster and an air supply, along with the the corresponding head, to remove dirt and debris. Our rotor heads are designed to allow air to evenly clean the filter, while also eliminating the risk of damaging the filter itself during the cleaning process.

You can get a better look at how to clean filters with Filter Blaster by watching this video.

Use Filter Blaster for better engine performance

If you have never used our products to clean heavy equipment diesel engine air filters, then trust us, they are game changers.

Not only will they save you money in both the short- and long-term, you will notice better engine performance for any piece of construction, farming, mining or other heavy industry equipment.

Learn more about what makes Filter Blaster better than other filter cleaners and then be sure to pick one up for yourself.

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