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How Bad Is a Dirty Air Filter for Your HVAC System?

If you could pick just one thing to impair household energy efficiency, boost monthly utility costs and degrade indoor air quality, running your heating and cooling system with a clogged air filter would be hard to beat. Your HVAC system is by far the biggest energy consumer in the house and has the greatest impact on your day-to-day comfort. At the same time, adequate airflow through your system is the single most important parameter that ensures proper performance and efficiency. In most cases, the component that makes the difference between optimum and insufficient airflow is the air filter.

Here’s what can go wrong if your air filter isn’t changed regularly:

  • Too hot or too cold. If air volume delivered to rooms is below specs, living spaces will be difficult to cool or heat. Even the smallest residential HVAC system needs to move at a minimum of 1,000 cubic feet of air per minute to maintain consistent temperatures. A clogged filter reduces that airflow and comfort suffers.
  • Higher utility bills. When the volume of conditioned air reaching rooms is compromised by a dirty filter, your HVAC system runs extended “on” cycles to meet thermostat settings. In summer, the A/C compressor consumes more electricity; furnace burners work overtime during winter and increase natural gas expenses.
  • Declining air quality. A dirty filter loses its ability to remove airborne particulates from indoor air including, dust, pollen, pet dander and microorganisms such as mold spores. Any or all of these are major triggers of allergies and respiratory symptoms. Dirty air filters may actually serve as friendly breeding grounds for mold and other airborne pathogens.
  • Shortened system life. The air filter has two main functions: to safeguard indoor air quality and protect your HVAC system from wear and tear due to dust and dirt. The blower fan, heat exchanger, coil and other components are vulnerable to dirty air re-circulating through the system when the filter is not changed regularly.

For more information on when and how to change your HVAC air filter, contact the professionals at Melton Heating & Air Conditioning.