Your HVAC system is made up of many parts, all of which are critical to its performance. While the air filter may not be the most expensive or complex part, it’s vital to providing your home with clean air all year long.
What is an Air Filter?
In most HVAC systems, the air filter is found in the furnace, which is why it’s often referred to as a furnace filter.
An air filter has two primary responsibilities:
- Prevent contaminants, such as allergens, from recirculating through your home
- Protect the blower fan from debris, such as dust, pet hair, and construction material
By doing both of these things effectively, your HVAC system performs at its peak, your home’s air remains clean, and you protect your system from damage.
What Happens if You Don’t Change Your Furnace Filter?
Like most homeowners, changing your air filter isn’t high on your priority list. However, once you get on a schedule – such as every three months – it’s easier to remind yourself when the time comes.
If you don’t change your furnace filter often, as suggested by the manufacturer, it can lead to a variety of problems.
- The filter can become so clogged that air is no longer able to pass through it, making it impossible to heat or cool your home.
- When the air can’t flow through the filter, heat is trapped in the system. This will eventually activate the limit switch, resulting in the furnace shutting down before it overheats.
- Short cycling can damage your furnace. Constant short cycling can damage your furnace, including the blower and electrical components, thus reducing the lifespan of your unit.
Is it OK to Run Your Furnace Without a Filter?
There are actually two questions here:
- Is it OK to run your furnace without a filter?
- Can you run your furnace without a filter?
Let’s start by answering the second question. Yes, it’s possible to run your furnace without a filter. Your system will deliver air to your home, but this is not a long-term solution (it’s best to avoid at all costs).
So, the answer to the first question is simple: no.
If you run your furnace without a filter, it can result in serious problems such as:
- Poor quality air circulated throughout your home
- Debris settling in the duct work
- System failure, often related to extra stress on the blower motor
Schedule to Replace Your Air Filter Regularly
As a general rule of thumb, get into the habit of changing your air filter every 90 days.
Even if the filter packaging says it will last longer, such as 12 months, don’t push it. Stick to every 90 days.
Tip: if you have reason to suspect a dirty filter, such as the result of a recent construction project, visually inspect it. You may find that you need to change it before 90 days.
When the seasons change in the Boston area, it’s time to inspect your furnace, change your filter, and make sure your HVAC system is prepared to keep you and your family comfortable in the months to come.