If you think the only reason you should care about your HVAC system’s air filter is because of the allergens and particles in your air, you’d only be partially correct.
Many homeowners assume that a dirty air filter is a problem because it keeps your air dirty, and that this is why technicians tell you to change it every 1-3 months. So, if you aren’t suffering from allergies at the moment, that means your air filter is fine where it is, right? Well, not necessarily!
While helping your indoor air quality is a small benefit of these air filters, their purpose isn’t entirely for that. Their purpose is actually to protect the interior components of your air conditioner and heating system. Keep reading to learn more about this, and how a dirty air filter actually impacts your life—or at least the life of your air conditioner.
Yes, a Dirty Air Filter Will Hurt Your Comfort
This air filter exists between the intake air and your HVAC system. So, a clogged air filter will prevent air from circulating through the vents. In other words, you won’t have enough air to stay cool (or warm, depending on the season). As a result, you’ll feel less comfortable.
If you notice hot or cold spots throughout your home, or if your thermostat says one temperature but you feel like it’s another, a clogged air filter may be to blame. But as we’re going to talk about more, minor discomfort is really the least of your worries.
A Clogged Air Filter Can Cause AC Leakage
The way your cooling system operates is by absorbing heat from the air within your home. As the refrigerant evaporates within the indoor condenser unit, the evaporator coil absorbs heat from the air blowing over that coil. However, if the air filter is too clogged up, warm air is restricted, which can actually cause the coil to freeze.
This is a two-fold problem. Ironically, a frozen coil won’t be able to absorb heat, which will cause low airflow going into your home. But additionally, as the ice thaws, the water will have nowhere to go but onto and into your property.
That said, a frozen evaporator coil could have a couple of potential causes. If you notice this issue, you should call an HVAC pro regardless of whether or not your air filter is clogged up, since trying to thaw the evaporator coil on your own could cause further damage or injury to yourself.
AC Inefficiency Will Cause Your Bills to Rise
When the air filter is too clogged up, the blower fan has to work a lot harder to try to bring in the right amount of air. Changing the air filter regularly restores the proper airflow through the ventilation system, and as a result, can keep your monthly utility bills down where they should be.
Your AC Can Suffer From Irreversible Damage
The fact is, your forced-air comfort systems are designed to take in a certain amount of air each time they go through a cycle. So if a clogged air filter is blocking airflow, the components of your HVAC system have to work a lot harder just to do the job they’re intended for. This means you can expect accelerated wear and tear over the season, and your HVAC system can fail right when you need it the most.