What Happens When You Don’t Change Your Air Filter

October 25, 2019

We are always reminding our customers to change their air filters - with good reason! Did you know that clogged filters are one of the most common causes of HVAC system failure? Here’s what happens when you don’t change your filter.

 
How Your HVAC Air Filter Works
First we should explain briefly how they work. Typically air filters are crafted from fiberglass or pleated paper that is encased in a cardboard frame. They are installed into your HVAC systems to help protect them from particles in your air such as allergens, dust, mold, pet dander, bacteria, etc.

The air is taken in through the filter that will then be recirculated throughout your home. This means that any contaminants that are in the air are essentially filtered out - for the most part - because of your air filter.

How Long Should You Go Between HVAC Filter Changes
The type of filter and your living conditions all have direct impacts on the frequency which you should change your filter.

A good rule of thumb is every 30 days - to be safe and also to keep in the habit of doing it. However you could possibly go longer between changes if you live in a home where there are no allergy sufferers, no pets, and few people.

The more pets, animals, and allergies your home’s occupants suffer from means the sooner you should change your filter in your home.

Example: If you have a vacation property that is only used a few times per year and pets aren’t permitted, you could go longer in between filter changes.

If you reside in a home with three children, a dog, and a cat, you will want to change your filter every 30 days.

Remember that the air in your home is constantly recirculated, so everything that is brought in on clothes, shoes, and pets, is depending upon your filter to take it out before it is recirculated back into your home again.

What Will Happen If You Don’t Change The Air Filter?
If you do not consistently change your filter, it will become clogged with build up of particles and contaminants. This will cause a number of issues for both you AND your HVAC system.

Higher Utility Costs
When the filter is clogged, air cannot effectively pass through the barrier. This means that your system will have to work harder in order to take in air through the clogged filter. This consequently will also mean it’s harder for your furnace or air conditioner to do its job and pass the air back out into your home.

 

Regulating Home Temperatures
A clogged filter will mean your system is straining. A strained system will struggle to disperse air conditioned or heated air throughout your home.

Health Issues With Clogged Air Filters
Your filter will not be able to effectively capture the contaminants if it is dirty. This can immediately lead to dust, pathogens, and pet dander being recirculated back into your air. These particles in your air can lead to headaches, sore throats, itchy eyes and sneezing. Over the long term, these particles could contribute to respiratory diseases.

System Repairs
As time goes on and your system is operating on a dirty filter, it can cause early system failure. This can be due to your system straining to circulate air and break. This issue is further aggravated if you do not get regular HVAC maintenance performed on your system.

Not changing the filter can also cause your system to be overworked, causing the evaporator coils to freeze up. Once again, this is a costly repair that could have been prevented if the filter was changed regularly at a fraction of the cost.

What You Can Do
Your next steps should include immediately finding out what size your filter is and setting yourself reminders to change your filter regularly. A lot of customers see success with this by setting reminders on their phones or adding it to their grocery list. Some buy packs of multiple filters so they are always on hand and it takes another step out of the equation.

You should also call to have maintenance performed on your system so that it is inspected and tested to ensure it is running smoothly and that any potential system issues are addressed before they cause larger problems.

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