The HVAC system in your Baltimore, Maryland, home is responsible for maintaining a comfortable atmosphere throughout the changing seasons. Certain maintenance tasks are necessary to keep your system operating at peak efficiency. Changing the filter is a simple task that homeowners can do themselves to prevent further issues from developing. Here’s what a dirty air filter can do to your system and how to stop it. When it isn’t done regularly, a dirty air filter has been known to create overheating issues. Here’s a breakdown of how air filters work and why overheating issues can be problematic for your AC system.
One of the key components in your heating and cooling system is the air filter, which prevents contaminants from entering the ducts and re-circulating every time the AC or furnace runs.
Filters come in multiple sizes and qualities, and it’s important to select the right one for your home. The correct size filter ensures no particles escape through air that gets pushed around the filter rather than through it. The quality of the filter, determined by is minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV), allows you to eliminate smaller dust, dirt, and other particles from your air depending on how high the MERV rating is.
Failing to change the air filter regularly can cause problems with your indoor air quality, but it can cause more serious problems as well. One of these is overheating, which can cause other components of the system to break down.
Can an Air Filter Cause Overheating?
As air flows from the home into the heating or cooling unit, the filter can either allow for proper airflow or restrict it. Restricted airflow puts extra strain on the fan motor within the air handler, which can burn out the motor over time and cause the system to overheat. An overheating system may give off a burning odor, which can indicate a problem. However, some systems don’t show any warning signs until it’s too late and the unit has been damaged.
When the filter is clogged and overloaded, it can no longer prevent dirt and other particles from entering the system. These particles start to coat the heating and cooling coils within the unit, resulting in an increased risk of system burnout. Dirty coils can also cause a cooling system to freeze up, resulting in ice forming on the outdoor unit.
Overheating and Higher Energy Bills
Dirty air filters also require the fan motor to work harder to move air, resulting in energy waste that increases your monthly bills. If you notice a steady increase in your energy bills, check your air filter. It could be to blame, especially if you haven’t changed it in the last few months.
Dealing With the Aftermath
As an HVAC technician in the Baltimore area, I have seen many instances where homeowners forget to change their air filters regularly or simply don’t realize the importance of this maintenance task. After a system starts to overheat because of a dirty filter, a homeowner typically contacts us to determine what’s causing the problem. We diagnose the issue and determine what repairs to do for any damage resulting from the overheating. In some cases, a coil or another component may need to be replaced.
If you continue to operate your overheating system, the damage could be irreparable, resulting in the need for a replacement service. Replacements often mean investing several thousand dollars into a new system, which can potentially be avoided if you keep up with regular filter changes.
Recommended Filter Change Schedule
The frequency of changing your filter ultimately depends on your system and the needs of your family. If anyone in the home suffers from asthma, allergies, or other breathing conditions, replacing the filter more often can improve the air quality and reduce unpleasant symptoms. You may also want to upgrade to a filter with a higher MERV rating that can remove smaller particles from the air.
An overall rule of thumb to follow is changing your filter every month or two. If you see visible dirt or dust on the filter, it’s definitely time to swap it out. Make sure to look at the size and placement when you remove the current filter, so you choose the right replacement filter and install it correctly.
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