Have you been told more times than you can count that you have to change the filters on your home’s central air conditioning system regularly? Is it something you tend to ignore or forget, until one day you notice the grime on your vents and decide to pull out a fat, fuzzy mess of gunk?
If that sounds familiar, or even if you think slacking off once in a while isn’t that bad, think again! Changing – or cleaning – filters, depending on the type you have, is more than just another item on your to-do list. It’s an essential part of protecting your health, your home, and your investment.
Find out what can happen when you don’t change filters so you’ll never forget to schedule this task again. The few minutes and few dollars it takes to do is infinitesimal compared to the amount of harm it can cause if you don’t.
Dirty, Unhealthy Air
Filters don’t just sit there and look pretty, they have a serious job to do. At a minimum, even the lowest end filters will capture dust, fibers and pollen. Better quality filters can also capture mold spores, aerosol chemicals, flour dust, smoke, viruses and bacteria, and more.
That’s great for keeping those things out of the air – and out of your lungs – but not so great if they’re being spit back into the air because your filters are too clogged to do their job.
Indoor air pollution is a big deal. The EPA has warned against indoor air pollution levels that can rival those in big cities. Especially if your windows are closed and the air conditioner is on, air is being recirculated throughout your home – including any contaminants in it.
When you fail to change filters, they become too dirty to capture pollutants, which are left to fester in the air or settle onto surfaces. And pollutants they’ve already captured may end up loose and wrecking havoc with your health.
Buildup On Blower Fans
Have you ever tried washing dishes with a greasy sponge? Not so much help in getting those dishes clean, is it? You’re probably just spreading the grease around making everything worse.
That’s not entirely different than what happens with your air conditioner if you don’t change filters. If they can’t trap particles because they’re dirty, the particles are going to end up somewhere – that may be back in the air, and it may be on your blower fan.
Inevitably, buildup is going to, well, build up. Dust and other airborne contaminants are going to start collecting on your system’s moving parts, from blower fans to motors and valves.
And you can bet that when that happens, things will start to fail. Replacing air conditioner components is a whole lot more aggravating and costly than swapping out filters on a regular schedule.
If you stay inside during high-pollen times, you may not be doing yourself any favors if your filters are too dirty to catch and keep it away from you. That goes for dust, dander, and any airborne pollutants that irritate eyes, lungs, nose and affect your breathing.
The result is more than just discomfort. It can be especially harmful for those with asthma or other respiratory ailments.
Not only will dirty filters not capture allergens, but as you’ve already seen, they may be releasing allergens back into the air. Relief is just a filter away. Changing them every three to six months can go a long way to reducing and eliminating your misery.
Wear And Tear On Your HVAC System
These days you probably know what it’s like to breathe through a face mask. It can be restrictive – especially during hot summer days. Now take that mask and add another layer. And fill it with stuff.
How’s your breathing now? You probably have to work a little harder, maybe you’re breaking a sweat at this point. Try and do that during a workout and you might have a little empathy for your air conditioner.
A filter acts like the “mask” for your HVAC system. It keeps the bad stuff out, but if all that stuff accumulates on the filter, airflow is restricted and your AC has to labor to “breathe”.
In other words, the more clogged your filter, the harder it is to push air through the ducts and vents, and the harder and longer your system has to work to cool your home.
Do we have to tell you what happens if your system is overworked? Breakdowns, repairs, early replacement, and lots of money. Save yourself the stress and do the easy thing – swap out or clean filters regularly.
Higher Energy Bills
This one may be self-evident but it’s worth mentioning because sometimes seeing the stark reality in black and white can help motivate you to take the simplest actions – like changing filters!
Dirty filters make your system work harder. A system that works harder works longer and uses more energy. More energy usage means higher bills – as much as 15% higher. On a $100 monthly energy bill, you can be adding another $15 per month. The cost of new filters isn’t going to come anywhere near that.
Add this to your “unnecessary repairs” list. And if coils freeze, it’s gonna cost you.
Remember, when filters get dirty, airflow gets restricted. In order for your air conditioner to function properly, air needs to circulate properly around the coils. If that doesn’t happen, the coils can freeze, which is a pretty big deal and can lead to a major system breakdown.
In addition, dirty or failed blower fans – due to dirty and ineffective filters – can also cause airflow problems that lead to frozen coils. In any case, avoid being the cause of these expensive and unnecessary failures by keeping filters clean.
It’s not a leap to see how dirty filters, restricted airflow and an overworked system can lead to poor cooling. If you want to turn on your air conditioner and actually feel refreshed, then clean filters can go a long way to making that happen.
You can also see how this can become a vicious cycle. Dirty filters lead to an overworked unit, leads to poorer cooling capacity, leads to someone turning the temperature down, leads to an even more overworked system, leads to worse and worse performance and poorer and poorer cooling.
Phew! Stop the madness. Just clean or change filters on a regular schedule, without fail. Better yet, get on an annual maintenance contract with your HVAC contractor so you don’t have to think about it at all.
If you’re interested in maintenance, let us know. We have annual contracts that come with perks and discounts, and you can leave the filters to us.