Jan 28

Can A Furnace Run Without Its Filter?

furnace air filterThe primary function of the air filter in your furnace is to trap particulate pollutants like dust, dirt, allergens, pollen and pet dander. Trapping these pollutants lessens the risk for certain health conditions, which include allergies, asthma attacks, bronchitis, and sinus congestion.

Air filters also stop dirt and debris from causing damage to the heating unit. Additionally, it helps the system to function more efficiently, reducing heating costs in your home. Overall, though it might not look like much, air filters perform many vital tasks from which you can benefit tremendously. With this in mind, there are additional details on this matter below:

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Can Furnaces Work Without Filters?

The heating system in your home has an air filter positioned between the furnace and the blower fan. The fan pulls cold air in from outside and directs it to the furnace to provide heat. However, before reaching the furnace, the air passes through a filter, typically made of tightly woven cloth, fiberglass or paper elements.

The primary duty of the air filter is to safeguard particulate matter against getting into the furnace. As time passes on, there is a buildup of dirt and other debris on the filter. As such, you should have your air filter regularly inspected, and cleaned or replaced to prevent the filter from clogging. Hiring a qualified HVAC technician is the best choice if you are not comfortable doing this.

The clogged air filter could lead to many furnace problems. These include:

  • Overheated furnace
  • Poor airflow
  • Malfunctioning furnace and increased furnace repairs
  • Worn-down HVAC system
  • Increased utility bills

Can The Furnace Be Operated Without An Air Filter?

dirty HVAC air filterThe heating system can technically operate without an air filter. However, that is not a good idea for two key reasons:

  • If it is used for a long time without an air filter, dirt will accumulate inside the inner mechanisms of the unit. Doing so could potentially cause damage to the heating system extensively and result in costly repairs. It could even force you to replace the entire system
  • Without a filter, particulate matter could be circulated throughout the home by the heating system, resulting in poor air quality.

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Risk Of Operating A Furnace Without An HVAC Air Filter

The primary function of the air filter is to keep a heating system in optimal working condition, particularly the blower motor and evaporator coils. Therefore, if you operate your system without an air filter, it is likely the furnace will develop common furnace issues, causing regular breakdowns. Not only will this result in costly repairs, but it could also significantly shorten the lifespan of the unit. Other problems that could be caused by operating the furnace without a filter include:

  • Contaminated Ductwork: Without the air filter, particulate pollutants and air toxins such as pet dander will circulate in the ductwork. Eventually, the pollutants will amass on the ribbed aluminum tubes within the ductwork, forming an ideal setting for mold to grow. The HVAC unit will eventually circulate the mold spores all through your home. Sadly, mold exposure is a definite risk factor for various health conditions like respiratory problems and allergies.
  • Poor Air Quality: Without an air filter, the HVAC system will distribute particulate pollutants around your home, resulting in poor indoor quality. Health experts have found that exposure to these pollutants can result in a myriad of health issues like asthma and other respiratory problems. Additionally, the pollutants could reach the inner mechanism of the unit and cause it to breakdown.



Even though the heating system can be used without an air filter, this should not be done. Without a filter, particulate pollutants will get into the system, leading to failure or malfunction. This issue could end up forcing you to pay for costly repairs or even worse, you could end up having to replace the entire HVAC system. You may also end up paying more for the heating expenses of your home. Furthermore, without an air filter, particulate pollutants will flow throughout the house, compromising the quality of the air.

Skylands Energy only hires NATE-certified technicians to assist you when you require HVAC repairs or maintenance. We provide the local community with reliable and affordable HVAC services that can improve the indoor air quality, comfort, and efficiency of your system. When properly maintained, your system can perform optimally during severe weather. Call Skylands Energy today to set up an appointment.

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