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What Happens If I Don’t Change My Air Filter?

Changing your HVAC system’s air filter is like changing the oil in your car, extremely important. Neglecting to do so will cause the destruction of the system in question. HVAC filters are great components, but are not designed to last for very long, especially relative to the type of particles they’re filtering.

Failing to change your air filters often can lead to some huge problems for your home, and your health. If you’re curious about the consequences of not changing your air filters, and how to do so properly, this article is for you.

To understand how important it is to change air filters, we should go over what they do, what they’re made of, and assess the factors in your home that may affect the filter’s performance. Air filters work by being installed where the air duct enters the air handler. If your home is large then you probably have more than one air filter.

With the filter installed, air circulated from the HVAC system will pass through the filter. Then, any particles in the air will be caught by the filter. These particles can range from dust to dead skin, hair, pet dander, pollen, and various fumes like cigarette smoke. Air filters range in types and sizes depending on your needs.

Air filters range in their strength. The standard measure of an air filter’s strength is the MERV system, or Minimum Efficiency Report Value. The MERV rating best for homes is the MERV 8-10 range. These filters are ideal for home use because they are effective against common household air pollutants.

Any air filter that goes beyond the MERV 8-10 rating will be even more effective against air pollutants, however they will interfere with the performance of your home’s HVAC systems. Higher MERV ratings should only be deployed in settings like hospitals, spas, and salons. Places with very high levels of air pollution, or places that need to have air pollution mitigated as much as possible.

If you put too high of a MERV-rated air filter in your home HVAC system, you’re causing your system to work harder than it needs to, as it must push air through the heavy filter. This will drive your electricity bill up as your HVAC system harnesses more power than necessary to keep the air in your home fresh.

Air filters are either made of pleated fibers, fiberglass, high efficiency particulate arrestance or HEPA, or washable cloth. Each has their advantages and disadvantages, so keep track of the type you have.

How to Change My Air Filter

To avoid all of the headache associated with clogged air filters, it’s best to learn how to change them on your own. Here is a step-by-step guide for changing your home air filter. Before you do any of the following, make sure you turn off your HVAC system.

Find your air filter or filters. Air filters are often located at the intersection between your home’s air duct or ducts and the air handler chamber. These are often tucked away in utility closets, on the wall hidden behind a sheet metal air vent cover grille, or outside of your home behind a similar grille. If you find the filter behind a vent, make sure you have the appropriate tools handy to get the vent open.

Remove the old filter. Once you’ve located the air filter, it’s time to remove the old one. Remove any metal grille that may be in the way and dislodge the air filter from its place. If the filter looks like it’s in good condition with very little debris on it, see if you can wipe the debris off. Sometimes air filters that have been lightly used can be brushed off and used again for a short time. If not, remove the filter and discard it.

Place the new filter. Put the new filter in the same place as the old one. Make sure the receptacle is clean and free of debris. When you’re putting the new filter in, make sure the filter is facing in the correct direction. Use the old filter as a reference. Once the new filter is placed properly, close any grilles or compartments necessary and you’re done!

Where to Get Air Filters

Air filters can be found at any hardware store in your local area, but if there aren’t any available, you can order filters online. Here at Filter King, you can order custom air filters that match the size or your air ducts and MERV rating you desire. We also deliver the filters for free when you order two or more filters.

What Problems are Caused by a Clogged Air Filter

Neglecting to change your air filter will cause lots of problems. As your air filter catches more and more debris, it will accumulate to an unhealthy level at some point. Once that happens, your HVAC system will require much more electricity to push air through the filter and all of the debris blocking it, driving your electric bill up.

If you let this happen for long enough, the filter could break, releasing all of the pollutants it has accumulated. The pollutants will then float freely though your HVAC system, your house, and eventually your lungs. This can lead to your home’s air supply feeling stuffy and dirty, and you could get sick as a result.

As a result of continually neglecting to change your HVAC filter, your AC unit will eventually break down and stop working. The motors in the HVAC system are not designed to work under stress continuously. If your air filter or filters remain full for too long, your HVAC system will fail entirely.

So in summary, make sure that you change your HVAC air filters often. It is recommended that you change your filter every 90 days. This number can change, however, depending on the number of filters in your system, and the type of pollutants they’re catching. As a rule of thumb, check your air filter every week to see if it’s doing alright.