Cleaning heavy-duty air filters

Cleaning heavy-duty air filters

Several questions should enter truck operators’ minds when selecting air filters for your trucks. According to Wix Filter engineers, it only takes 8 oz. of dirt to destroy a diesel engine. Those questions, as offered by Wix, should include:

• The type of sealing gasket; a close look at the media or paper and the filter’s end caps should be designed with structure and fit in mind.

• The filter should include precise embossed pleats, stabilization beads and various media basis weights. Some maintenance supervisors believe that cleaning and re-using heavy-duty air filters can lower operating costs. In fact, virtually every air filter manufacturer discourages the practice of cleaning air filters and the makers do not warrant cleaned air filters. Utilizing the maximum life of the air filter is your best practice for gaining the maximum, cost-effective engine protection.

Before cleaning your filters, Cummins Filtration suggests these facts:

• Proper use of a quality air filter restriction gauge and adherence to OEM recommended air filter change guidelines will provide the maximum life out of the air filter element and the engine/equipment that the filter is protecting.

• Cleaning your air filter will reduce the dust holding capacity compared to a new air filter. Dust capacity can drop up to 25% after the first cleaning with additional capacity loss after each subsequent cleaning. Loss of dust capacity shortens the useable service internal of the filter. According to Cummins Filtration, on-highway air filters should not be cleaned since the contamination encountered over the road (fine particles and soot materials) is difficult to remove from the air filter media. Cleaned filters generally display a dirty color due to the retained contaminant. Such filters have marked reductions in dust capacity.

The major supplier also offered that secondary air filters should never be cleaned since it is the last barrier to contaminant before it reaches your engine. The life of a secondary air filter is equivalent to three changes of the primary air filter. Extra handling of air filters could inadvertently cause damage. Proper inspection of cleaned elements is of vital importance for the proper operation of the air cleaner system.

Generally, the commercial air filter cleaners don’t want to clean air filters that have been used to the OEM recommended change point, and this fact encourages more frequent filter service and leads to the problems associated with too frequent opening/closing of the system. But if you opt to clean your air filters, remember, risks are involved. Any type of cleaning is only as good as the handling techniques used. Do-it-yourself cleaning techniques offer considerable risk to the integrity of the air filter and should be avoided.

Before any cleaning, a visual inspection of the filter is needed. If there is any damage to any parts, don’t clean or reuse, just discard. Also noteworthy: filter makers recommend that operators not strike the element with a tool or a hard surface to loosen the accumulated contaminant; do not scrape the contaminant from the media’s surface.

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