HVAC Air Filters – What Happens if You Don’t Change Them?

How often should you change an air filter, and what happens if you don’t? Uncover all the answers in this handy guide.

Most people don’t consider their HVAC system until it stops functioning the way it should. Yet, among the biggest sources of a system complication or failure are clogged or broken air filters.

Your air filter does more than impact the air quality in your environment. Air filters play an essential role in the performance of heating and cooling units, impacting energy efficiency and system lifespan. This small, inexpensive component of your HVAC system impacts so much. But what happens if you don’t change it? Let’s explore.

What does an air filter do?

Air filters are generally made of spun fibreglass or pleated paper and surrounded by a cardboard frame. They are inserted into a specific place in the HVAC system and act as a barrier to prevent contaminants and other particles from circulating in the air, or from reaching sensitive parts of the system.

Some of the common things that an air filter blocks out are dust, pollen, lint, mould, hair, animal fur, bacteria, and more. They also play a crucial role in the ongoing battle with Covid-19. It’s well known that indoor air quality is crucial in keeping you and your employees safe in the office.

How often should filters be changed or cleaned?

You will need to follow different schedules to ensure that the filter is always functioning for optimal performance. Most manufacturers recommend that basic filters are changed or cleaned every 60 to 90 days, but other circumstances could affect that schedule. For example:

  • A filter in a regular environment with no pets should be changed every 90 days.
  • If your building has a single pet, the filter should be changed every 60 days.
  • For multiple pets, or if anyone in your home suffers from allergies, you’ll want to change or clean the filter every 20 to 45
  • People in single-occupant homes with no pets, or those who own vacation homes that don’t get much use can usually wait for 6 to 12 months before changing their filter.

What happens when you don’t change your air filter?

When air filters are not consistently changed or cleaned, they get clogged by the build-up of particles and contaminants that stick to the filter. While the air filter is designed to accommodate these minuscule items, this build-up creates an almost impenetrable barrier. Air cannot completely flow through it, which can cause multiple problems for the entire HVAC system.

So, what can happen if you neglect air filter maintenance? Here are eight possibilities that highlight the importance of air filter maintenance.

  1. A clean air filter facilitates the free flow of air through your system. When clogged with dust and debris, airflow is restricted, causing the system’s internal temperature to drop and eventually causing the coils to ice. Even in the middle of a warm summer, coils can, and will, freeze up if filters are blocked.

  2. Since clogged air filters make the system strain to create airflow, warm or cool air cannot adequately go where needed. This outcome means that some rooms could be too cold during the winter or too hot in the summer.

    In environments where the indoor air temperature is crucial, such as in care homes for patient health or within important server rooms to protect pivotal equipment from overheating, filter maintenance is vital.

  3. Before you call for HVAC repair services because your system is short cycling (constantly turning off and on), check to see if your air filter is dirty. Letting this problem continue unaddressed could leave you with a pretty hefty energy bill.

  4. Dust, pollen, mould, dander, germs and debris that a clogged air filter can no longer filter out will be recirculated back into your environment. This is especially dangerous for people with allergies and respiratory conditions.

    Immediate issues could include headaches, itchy eyes or throat, and dizziness. If the air filters are not changed and the issue continues, the long-term effects could be respiratory diseases, heart disease or cancer. Poor air quality is also known to harm employee productivity.

  5. Allergens from a dirty air filter can build up, potentially leading to mould growth in your ductwork over time. However, keeping ductwork clean will lead to better HVAC efficiency.

    Much like air filters, when your ductwork becomes dirty it can restrict the airflow throughout your HVAC system. With clean air ducts, all the dust, dirt, mould and mildew are removed, so clean air can flow freely throughout your environment.

  6. Dust and dirt can also get into internal system components, causing damage and costly reactive maintenance down the road. In fact, a dirty air filter is the most common culprit found by engineers attending repair calls.

  7. The added wear and tear from dirty filters will shorten your system lifespan, leading to the need for early replacement. The nominal cost and inconvenience of replacing an air filter pale in comparison to the thousands it will cost for a new system.

  8. Ignoring the need to change your air filter will cost you more in the long run. A dirty filter forces your system to run longer and work harder to cool your environment, therefore, inflating your energy bill.

    If being environmentally friendly and having a low carbon footprint is meaningful to you, make sure your air filters are clean.

Let us show you how to change HVAC air filters

If you haven’t changed or cleaned the air filters in your system lately, your next step should be to figure out which filters you need and replace them as soon as possible. If you find that your old air filters can’t let anything pass through, it’s time to contact the professionals.

Air filters tend to break apart over time. At Mid-Tech, we will inspect the system and resolve any issues caused by the clogged filters, thus preventing further problems in the future. Checking your filter just once a month and cleaning it can save you some serious repair issues. Make it part of your HVAC regular maintenance.

For more information on how to change your air filters in your AC or HVAC, speak to us today. In the meantime, follow our journey on LinkedInFacebook and Instagram for more handy insights.