What Happens When You Have a Dirty Air Filter in Your Home?

Learn about what happens when you have a dirty or clogged air filter in your home: from structural damage to increased energy consumption.

What Happens When You Have a Dirty Air Filter in Your Home?

When the air filter is dirty, hot air is limited, which can cause the coil to freeze and water to seep into your home. This can lead to structural damage and spread contaminants such as dust, dirt, pollen, and pet dander. A clogged or dirty air filter can also restrict the airflow of the system, forcing it to work harder and consume more energy. This can make ducts dirty and leave a lot of extra dust throughout the house.

Additionally, dirt on the fan blades can prevent the air filter from protecting your HVAC system. Dust and debris in a household air cleaner restrict airflow, making the oven strain and use more energy to heat or cool your home. Just like replacing your car's engine oil and air filter every 3,000 miles, a clean HVAC air filter protects your heating system from being damaged and ultimately completely failing. This air filter exists between the intake air and the HVAC system.

Therefore, a clogged air filter will prevent air from circulating through the ventilation grilles. In other words, you won't have enough air to keep you cool (or warm, depending on the season). As a result, you'll feel less comfortable. The fact is that their forced air comfort systems are designed to absorb a certain amount of air every time they go through a cycle.

According to the Diamond Certified Organization, a clogged oven air filter is the main cause of equipment failure. Frost buildup on coils or fans makes it difficult for the air conditioning unit to remove heat from the air and cool your home. One of the purposes of an air filter is to filter out all microscopic particles such as dust, pollen, pet dander, bacteria, plant spores and mold, and even smoke. A dirty air filter can cause problems such as dirty ducts, poor indoor air quality, and unpleasant odors in your home.

As the refrigerant evaporates inside the indoor condenser unit, the evaporator coil absorbs heat from the air blowing over that coil. Not only will a dirty air filter cause an inefficient and improperly functioning air conditioner, it can also damage your oven. HVAC air filters work in partnership with your home's heating and cooling system to keep it running smoothly and efficiently. When the air filter is too clogged, the fan has to work a lot harder to try to get the right amount of air in.

Lack of proper airflow causes this condensation to freeze, reducing the unit's ability to remove heat from the air (e.g., in a nutshell, every time the system is forced to work harder, it's costing you dearly (PLUS, you get less air for that money). With reduced airflow, you may experience hot and cold spots in your home, and it can be difficult to achieve desired indoor temperature levels. Basically, an overloaded air blower can fail completely, causing the entire system to fail and costing you thousands of dollars for repair or replacement. We recommend checking your air filter at least once a month for optimal performance. Advanced filters can last a little longer.