May 16

What Happens If You Don’t Change Your Air Filter?

air conditioner filter with dirt

Maintain your HVAC system to prolong its lifespan. You won’t regret the time, money, and effort spent on it. Just a little can go a long way. Refer to the user’s manual to see the recommended actions of the manufacturer. By following these diligently, you can squeeze a decade or more of reliable service from your heating or cooling system. You may often see the advice to replace the air filters every few months. However, because every home is different, you may need to perform a home air filter replacement once a month or so. It is best to check monthly a determine the best replacement schedule for your home.

Air filters capture pollutants and other undesirable airborne particles. They protect the HVAC system from dirt build-up which could have otherwise affected performance and service life. They can also shield the family from pathogens and allergens, creating healthier indoor air quality and an indoor environment.

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What Happens If You Don’t Change Your Air Filter?

In this article, we discuss the importance of replacing your HVAC air filter regularly.

How HVAC Filters Work

If you open an air filter, you will see a fibrous material inside each of them. These could be washable fabric, spun fiberglass, or pleated paper. These are soft and loose, so they need a rigid frame such as cardboard to retain rigidity. These filters let air pass through their porous materials, but particulates are trapped in the fibers. They are useful in preventing pollen, mold spores, dust, lint, animal hair, and bacteria from circulating around the house. Using the right filter allows the system to get good airflow while improving air quality. However, filters are only effective for a limited period. After this, they must be replaced to ensure smooth operations.

There is no ideal filter replacement frequency because it will always depend on the situation. However, it is always a good idea to be vigilant. Monitor the filters frequently, such as with a monthly check. It will help you assess the speed of dirt build-up and give you a good idea about when to perform a replacement.

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Factors that Dictate Air Filter Replacement Rate

The rate of replacement depends on the type of filter that you are using. You will also have to consider the environmental condition, the frequency of use, the number of pets in the home, and the sensitivity of the occupants to air quality. Most people should do well just sticking to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This typically ranges from 30 to 60 days. A single-family home with one pet can follow this rule of thumb.

If a house has no pets in it, then it may be possible for the filters to stay put for about 90 days or so. On the other hand, those with multiple pets may need to replace their filters in as early as 20 days. If a secondary home is only used for vacations, then the filter may stick around between 6 and 12 months. Due to all the variables, it is hard to pinpoint an exact replacement period. Conducting regular checks is the best way for homeowners to get a feel for the filter status and determine a suitable schedule.

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The Consequences of HVAC Air Filter Neglect

Diligence leads to excellence. On the other hand, neglect results in negative consequences for both the HVAC units and the homeowners. Since contaminants stick to the filter fibers, they can eventually block the passage of air. It can push the system to work harder until the breaking point. If you don’t replace the filters as necessary, then be prepared to deal with the following:

1. High Energy Bills

couple looking at energy costs and high energy cost of heating and air conditioning

HVAC systems are the biggest consumers of electricity. Homeowners already expect it so they can tolerate the utility bills while they remain within a reasonable range. The problem with clogged filters is that they force the system to work harder and consume more energy to make up for the poor airflow. Monthly bills can spike to elevated levels, and households may not be able to make ends meet with their limited budget. Ignoring the problem will allow it to get worse. It is far better to purchase cheap filter replacements than to pay excessive utility bills each month. Adhere to the schedule to control your expenses.

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2. Poor Temperature Regulation

Poor airflow from dirty filters can cause comfort issues around the house. For example, families may find that some areas are cold while others are hot. This uneven cooling could make it difficult to stay where you need to be. It can be particularly annoying at night if your bedroom does not have as much cool air as you are used to. If you are not able to sleep well, then you will not be focused and productive the next day. Relocating is an inconvenient and temporary solution. It is far better to deal with the problem head-on by changing the filters.

3. Poor Indoor Air Quality

image of a homeowner experiencing allergies

Filters lose their effectiveness over time. As they capture more dirt and dust, the fibers become less efficient in catching particles in the air. More of these unwanted pollutants will reach the home’s interior and potentially settles in the lungs of individuals. People who have allergies will feel this immediately, but also may also feel discomfort eventually with constant exposure. Allergens can trigger sneezing, headaches, throat itch, and dizziness. All these can make even basic tasks difficult to complete. People may even develop respiratory problems.

4. Early HVAC System Failure

A well-maintained HVAC system should last for at least 10 years. It is common for these to continue running for over a decade. One of the secrets to longevity is regular maintenance. Even homeowners with no knowledge of HVAC systems can replace the air filters without any difficulties. This keeps the system running smoothly, instead of stressing them out due to clogged airways. Stress shortens service life because of faster wear and tear. Do everything that can prevent these, especially low-cost strategies such as filter change. It is far more practical than paying for expensive repairs early and often.

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5. Frozen AC Coils

The evaporator coils are there to absorb heat from the house and cool the interior bit by bit. These are supposed to be cool but not freezing. Good airflow keeps them within an ideal range. If the filters are clogged, then there may not be enough air to regulate their temperature. They can start to freeze with the ice preventing heat absorption. The system will not run properly if this happens. Expect erratic behavior that leads to failure. This may require expensive repairs. Focus on prevention so you won’t have to spend for the cure.



Find out the recommended filter replacement rate for your system and follow it. Adjust as you see fit. Never neglect the filters because they have such a big impact on system performance and lifespan. If you haven’t paid much attention until now, then act quickly to remedy the situation. Make it a habit to check and replace on a regular schedule. For advanced maintenance tasks, schedule annual visits from professional technicians.

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image of skylands energy service logoSkylands Energy Service is the best in the business. Residents of central New Jersey can rely on us for the repairs, maintenance, installations, and replacements of HVAC systems. Our certified technicians have the competence and experience to provide lasting solutions.

Don’t worry about the cost because Skylands Energy Service keeps the rates competitive. You also get a satisfaction guarantee. Take care of your heating and cooling system without any hesitation. Call us today to set up an appointment. We can pay a visit and provide a free estimate.

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