Are you one of many homeowners who thinks that the only reason to consider the condition of your HVAC system’s air filter is because of the allergens and particles that could be in the air? If so, you’re only partially right.
There are a number of homeowners who assume that a dirty air filter is an issue because it keeps the air dirty, and this is why we advise our customers to change their filters every 1–3 months. So if you’re not suffering from allergies or any other ill effects of poor indoor air quality, you don’t have to worry about it, right?
Well, not quite … helping your indoor air quality is only a tiny part of what these air filters do. Their actual purpose is to protect the air conditioner itself from dust, dirt, and other debris that can get inside and hurt the air conditioner’s sensitive components. So, yes, a dirty air filter will hurt your air conditioner. Read on to learn how.
How a Dirty Air Filter Hurts
The air filter of your HVAC system is placed between the intake air register and your air conditioning system. When an air filter is too clogged up, it restricts air from circulating through the ventilation system. In other words, you won’t get enough air from your cooling system to actually stay cool, and you’ll be less comfortable as a result.
You’ll notice hot spots throughout your home, and you may notice that your thermostat says one temperature even though it doesn’t feel like it is that temperature. And discomfort is only part of the equation!
A Dirty Air Filter Can Cause Leakage
The way that your air conditioner functions is that it absorbs heat from the air inside your home. As refrigerant evaporates within the indoor condenser unit, the evaporator coil absorbs heat from the air blowing over that coil. However, if the air filter gets too clogged up, warm air gets restricted, and this can cause the coil to freeze over.
There are two problems that develop because of this. Ironically, a frozen coil will be unable to absorb heat, which causes low airflow going into your living space. In addition, as the ice thaws, the water won’t have anywhere to go but onto your property.
All this said, there are actually a couple of potential causes of a frozen evaporator coil. Regardless of whether or not your air filter is clogged up, you should always call in a professional if you notice ice development on your air conditioner. This isn’t a normal part of the cooling process, and trying to remove the ice yourself can do more harm than good (plus it doesn’t address the root cause of the problem).
A Clogged Air Filter Hurts Efficiency
When the air filter is too clogged up and airflow is restricted, your air conditioner has to run longer to try to reach the desired temperature on your thermostat as it struggles to bring in the right amount of air. This means that your air conditioner is draining more power than it would otherwise have to in order to keep you comfortable, which is inefficient. It raises your utility bills and can even shorten the lifespan of your cooling system.
To avoid this, make sure you are changing your air filter on a routine basis. If you’re unsure of how often this should be, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team for guidance.