There’s a pretty common misconception when it comes to the air filter inside an HVAC system. Many homeowners assume that this air filter is in place to protect their indoor air quality. While these air filters certainly don’t hurt your indoor air quality, their purpose is actually to protect the interior components of your HVAC system itself from dust, dirt, and other debris that can get inside and harm its sensitive components. The air filter, then, needs to be changed on a regular basis–more on this below!
A dirty air filter can create a number of problems for your HVAC system, as it reduces airflow and causes the system to run longer to try to do its job. Read on to learn more!
The Role of Your HVAC Air Filter
As we alluded to above, the air filter in your HVAC system plays a pretty important role. While homeowners might mistakenly assume that they’re just an additional barrier to indoor air quality problems, the truth is they’re much more than that.
Air quality improvements are certainly an added bonus to your HVAC air filter, but this air filter is developed to keep away contaminants that can negatively impact the interior of your air conditioner, furnace, or heat pump. The interior components you’re protecting with this air filter include the coils, compressor, and refrigerant lines.
The Benefits of Your HVAC Air Filter
While the HVAC air filter is specifically developed to keep the HVAC system clean, it has some great additional benefits too, as long as you change it out every 1-3 months as needed. These benefits include:
Better Energy Efficiency: As long as your HVAC system has access to clean, unobstructed air that comes through the return air duct, then it can achieve maximum efficiency. The air filter helps with this by keeping out contaminants that can create friction to the airflow and actually reduce efficiency. That said, it’s important to remember that a clogged air filter can actually have the opposite effect, blocking airflow.
Cleaner Air: We’ve said a couple times now that your HVAC air filter isn’t there to protect your indoor air quality. However, it does help. It removes some contaminants from the air, trapping them in the HVAC air filter until you change or clean said filter.
Longer Equipment LIfespan: Remember how we mentioned that the HVAC air filter protects the components within your system from contaminants? Well, this helps that equipment last longer, basically increasing the lifespan of your HVAC system.
Avoid Overheating: The more clogged up the air filter gets, the less airflow your system has to draw in. As a result, it can’t produce enough heated (or cooled) air to your home to meet your thermostat’s demand. Therefore it will run longer and longer, trying to achieve that temperature setting. This increases wear and tear, first off, but can also cause the system to overheat entirely and shut down. Yes, this is true for air conditioners too!