What Happens When Your Home Air Filter Gets Dirty?

A dirty air filter can have a significant impact on your home's air quality and energy efficiency. When the filter becomes clogged with dust, dirt, pollen, and pet dander, it restricts the flow of cold air, causing it to build up inside the air conditioner and lower the internal temperature. This buildup of cold air can lead to ice forming on the coils, and a clear sign that the AC filter needs to be replaced is when the back of the unit is too hot. If the filter is heavily soiled, you may feel warm air coming out the back of the unit. A clogged filter forces the air conditioner to work harder to keep the house cool.

This will lead to more frequent air conditioning repairs and ultimately shorten the life of the unit. Not only that, but it can also spread contaminants such as dust, dirt, pollen, and pet dander instead of trapping them. It can also restrict the airflow of your system, forcing you to work harder and consume more energy. Clogged air filters can make ducts dirty and leave a lot of extra dust throughout the house. Be careful with dirt on the fan blades too.

A dirty filter won't be able to protect your HVAC system. Dust and debris in a household air cleaner restrict airflow, forcing your oven to strain and use more energy to heat or cool your home. Like replacing your car's engine oil and air filter every 3,000 miles, a clean HVAC air filter protects your heating system from damage and ultimately complete failure. As a result of the buildup, a dirty filter will also cause poor cold air flow in the air conditioning system. That cold air will be trapped inside the air conditioner, causing ice to form on your coils.

Once that happens, the air conditioner will freeze and stop working. However, before your system completely freezes, there will be some telltale signs you need to watch out for. One of them is uneven cooling throughout the house - if you notice that some rooms are harder to cool than others while others are constantly feeling cold, you'll want to check your air conditioning filter first. Air cleaners come at a price, but that cost is much lower than an emergency call to your local HVAC company. In a nutshell, every time your system is forced to work harder, it's costing you dearly (PLUS, you get less air for the money).

Change air filters regularly and have your HVAC system inspected annually to make sure it is working properly. Reduce the load by simply changing the AC filter regularly. In recent years, this air cleaning function has become more important for homeowners, and manufacturers have designed filters that use their heating and air system to remove microscopic particles such as dust, pollen, pet dander, bacteria, plant spores and mold, and even smoke from the home's atmosphere. Be sure to check the filter once a month and clean or replace it according to the manufacturer's instructions. If the surfaces closest to the vents are more dusty and others appear cleaner, it's a sure sign that the air filter needs to be replaced. In addition to increasing the utility bill, reducing airflow through the heating and cooling system can cause the heat exchanger to overheat and shut down too quickly, preventing the home from heating up. Dirty air filters also restrict airflow, putting a strain on your HVAC equipment as the fan has to work even harder to try to get the right amount of air in.

However, if you have several indoor pets or many people living in your home, you may need to change the filter more often - for example once a month. A dirty air filter can spread contaminants that can cause rashes, headaches, eye irritation, sinus problems, asthma or allergy symptoms, and other health problems. If it becomes too clogged with dust, dander and debris then it won't allow fresh refreshing air to pass through properly leaving you sitting in a pool of unpleasant sweat. A dirty air filter can cause problems such as dirty ducts, poor indoor air quality and unpleasant odors in your home.

Doug Bundley
Doug Bundley

Professional coffee aficionado. General web specialist. Avid internet guru. Subtly charming beer nerd. Infuriatingly humble bacon specialist. Hardcore web evangelist.

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