Why Changing Air Filters Is a Critical Part of Your HVAC System Maintenance

Regularly changing HVAC air filters is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect the heating and cooling equipment in your El Cajon, CA home. Although these components are relatively small and inexpensive, they play a critical role in keeping your furnace and air conditioner working effectively. From enhanced HVAC performance to lower and more manageable energy bills, read on to learn why routine filter changes are absolutely essential.

HVAC Air Filters Are Built to Protect Heaters and Air Conditioners

Central HVAC systems do far more than simply heat and cool building interiors. They also regulate indoor humidity and offer a fair amount of air filtration. Notwithstanding this fact, standard HVAC air filters aren’t really designed with humans and indoor air quality (IAQ) in mind. Instead, these components are installed to protect furnaces and air conditioners themselves. They filter out airborne particulates like dust, dirt, dander, pet hair, and pollen so that these allergens and contaminants don’t coat the interior of heaters and ACs.

Failing to put fresh filters in on a regular basis can result in overheating, musty or burnt odors throughout the building, decreased efficiency, and countless other problems. To extend the lifespan of the air conditioner and heater that you currently own and to limit your spending on HVAC repairs, check your air filter monthly and replace it every 30 to 90 days.

Timely Filter Changes Will Protect Your IAQ

Although standard HVAC air filters are largely intended to protect the interior of heaters and ACs, changing these components out is still essential for maintaining a sufficiently high IAQ. When filter changes are neglected for too long, these components often develop thick mats of lint-like debris. Buildups on excessively dirty filters often look a lot like the matter that collects on the lint screens of clothes dryers. Unfortunately, as active HVAC systems push air through these accumulations, small sections of these buildups break off and get blown away.

These floating clumps of dust, hair, and pollen coat the interior of HVAC air ducts and get caught on air registers, vents, and grilles. Some of this material also finds its way into the living environment, where it settles on tables, flooring, and shelves and enters the airways of building residents.

If you turn your air conditioner or heater on with a dirty filter in place, people within your home may struggle with:

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Minor skin irritation
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Sinus problems

Dirty air filters are also associated with decreased energy, recurring headaches, malaise, and depression. After all, it’s difficult to maintain an upbeat and positive mindset in a dusty, musty-smelling environment that keeps you feeling lethargic and unable to breathe deeply and comfortably.

Accumulated Filter Debris Will Force Your HVAC System to Work Harder

Dirty HVAC air filters lie at the heart of many common air conditioner and furnace problems. When air filters are dirty, heaters and air conditioners have to work a lot harder than normal to force air through these components. This extra work places undue stress on heating and cooling equipment, and it requires a lot more energy. The result is often shortened lifespans, increased repair issues, and greater operational and repair costs. Worse still, despite considerable increases in your overall spending, you’ll likely have hot and cold spots throughout the building, excess humidity, and longer wait times for relief.

The Connection Between Dirty Air Filters and Mold Development

Dirty air filters and humidity problems go hand in hand. When an HVAC air filter has accumulated all of the airborne debris that it can possibly hold, free-floating particulates make their way into the interior of heating and cooling equipment. During the cooling season, this debris can coat your air conditioner’s evaporator and condenser coils and impede the heat transfer process. Chilled or heated refrigerant within dirty AC coils has a harder time absorbing and releasing heat throughout the cooling cycle. Buildups of particulate matter can also cause your air conditioner’s evaporator coil to ice over so that only warm air is discharged from your HVAC air ducts.

The extra demand placed on ACs along with diminished performance, can leave your home feeling muggy, clammy, and downright oppressive. Overworked air conditioners struggle with humidity regulation, and buildups of dust throughout HVAC systems attract and retain excess moisture. Excess humidity can also build within your ducting to create the ideal conditions for mold spores. With plenty of built-up debris to feed on, bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens can thrive. Taking your air filter out and putting a fresh one in will create an all-around more comfortable living environment. It will also give you cleaner, healthier indoor air.

Avoid Foul and Pervasive Odors

Turning your heater or air conditioner on should never cause your home to reek. If your indoor air smells like dirty laundry, burnt wood, or mold when your air conditioner is on, it’s probably due to a dirty filter. Keeping your air filter fresh will keep air moving freely through your HVAC system and your home. Fresh, functional filters prevent humidity problems, reduce the likelihood of mold, and keep HVAC equipment from overheating.

You Can Limit Your Housework With Routine Filter Changes

With practice and plenty of replacement filters on hand, staying on top of this basic but essential HVAC maintenance won’t take long at all. Surprisingly, regularly changing your HVAC air filter can also reduce your daily chores. With fewer particulates being circulated throughout your living space, you’ll have a lot less sweeping, dusting, mopping, and vacuuming to do overall.

Preserve Your HVAC Manufacturer Warranties and Other Important Protections

New air conditioners and furnaces come with standard HVAC air filters installed. These components are put in place by HVAC manufacturers to minimize the risk of overheating, prevent premature equipment failure, and limit the need for repairs. To further protect themselves from liability, HVAC manufacturers also require regular filter changes as part of their warranty agreements.

If your heater or air conditioner is relatively new, it’s likely covered by one of these mutually binding contracts. Contrary to popular belief, manufacturer warranties do more than outline the provisions that manufacturers will make for consumers. These documents also list all of the steps that homeowners are required to take to keep their covered equipment functioning like it should. In addition to scheduling timely repairs and having annual AC and furnace maintenance performed, consumers are also required to change their HVAC air filters every one to three months.

Neglecting filter changes could result in your HVAC manufacturer warranties being automatically voided. In addition to frustrating claim denials, the loss of these protections could leave you paying for costly replacements and repairs on your own even if the underlying issues are the direct result of defective manufacturing or materials. Neglecting filter changes can also have a negative impact on all HVAC coverage that’s provided by your home insurance plan and your home warranty.

As a trusted, family-owned business, we’re proud to serve residents of El Cajon, CA and the surrounding communities. You can count on us for superior heating and cooling system installation, maintenance, and repair services. We also offer indoor air quality services, duct cleaning, and preventative maintenance plans. If you need help keeping your HVAC system in top condition, contact Comfort Bros Heating, Air & Plumbing now!

Meet the Author
Nicholas Gildark
Nicholas Gildark

Nicholas Gildark is a San Diego native who comes from a tight knit family and enjoys spending time with them. Nicholas is engaged to his beautiful fiance Allison Velasquez. The two of them recently purchased a home.
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