How A Dirty Home Air Filter Affects Your House

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante

The air quality in your home is just as important as any other necessity. Your HVAC system can determine your comfort at home, but it can also be a matter of safety. Even still, you may be unfamiliar with how a dirty home air filter can affect your home.

A dirty air filter affects the air quality in your home and it can make your HVAC system fail. Your home may take longer to cool down if your air filter is clogged because of the lack of airflow. Clogged air filters can also make your AC’s evaporator coils freeze, which can cause your compressor to fail.

Change your air filter every 3 months if you have pets and every 6-12 months if you don’t. Otherwise, your ducts will become dirty and you will find dust on the surfaces in your house. Follow along as we explore how a dirty home air filter affects your home.

Effects of A Dirty Air Filter In Your House

A dirty air filter can affect everything from your duct work to your breathing. It’s no secret that dirty air filters can wreak havoc on an HVAC system. Let’s take a look at the most common negative effects of a dirty air filter in your home.

Musty Odor

The most immediately noticeable effect of a dirty air filter is that your home smells musty. Dirt, dust, and debris will circulate throughout the HVAC system when the filter is dirty. The smell will continue to get worse and more pronounced if you fail to change the air filter.

You will notice the smell more prominently closer to the air vents. This is the first sign for many homeowners that it’s time to change the air filter. However, you should ideally change the air filter every 6-12 months or sooner, so that it doesn’t come to this.

Higher Energy Bills

Failure to change the air filter can increase your energy bills. Your HVAC system will have to work harder to circulate air throughout your home. This consumes more energy, which ultimately leads to a more expensive electric bill.

It’s important to change the air filter before the start of summer or winter, if it’s dirty. Your HVAC system already works harder during these times, so it’s ideal to do whatever you can to avoid big bills.

Home Slowly Heats Or Cools

Have you noticed that it takes a long time for your home to heat up or cool down? If so, that may be a sign that the air filter is dirty, and you need to replace it. Dirty air filters typically restrict airflow within an HVAC system.

Your indoor AC unit will struggle to bring cool air into your home if the filter is dirty. Not only does this increase your bills, but it also makes your home uncomfortable on hot or cold days.

Respiratory Problems

A dirty air filter can significantly reduce the air quality in your home. Dust, debris, and dirt can come out of the vents and flow throughout your home. The dusty air can trigger your allergies and even make it difficult to breathe in extreme cases.

This is especially true if you already have breathing problems, such as asthma or COPD. Dirt and dust may still circulate briefly after you change the filter, but you will quickly notice an improvement.

Dusty Surfaces

The dirt and dust from the air filter and vents will settle on the surfaces in your home. It can be difficult to keep up with the mess, especially on tables, floors, and countertops near your air vents. The problem will continue until you replace the air filter.

In some cases, you may also need to have the air ducts cleaned. Clogged filters can cause a backup in the ducts that is difficult to clear without hiring a professional. However, it’s worth the low cost to clean your ducts and replace the air filter to reduce the workload around the house.

Frozen Evaporator Coils

Your air conditioner’s evaporator coils can freeze if the air filter is dirty. A clogged air filter reduces the airflow, which traps cool air and eventually freezes your evaporator coils. Frozen evaporator coils can stop your air conditioner from working altogether.

This can also cause the compressor to work too hard and it can overheat. It’s much more expensive to fix or replace a compressor than it is to replace an air filter. A standard air filter costs $6 or less, and it costs at least $800 to replace a compressor if it breaks because your evaporator coils froze.

Your HVAC System Can Fail

The worst-case scenario is that your HVAC system can fail. This can happen whether your HVAC system is old or new, but it’s more common for older systems. It’s harmful to the entire system if it overheats.

Overheating occurs when there is some sort of failure or obstruction that makes the system work harder. The stress that a clogged air filter puts on an HVAC system is enough to make it overheat.

How Often Should You Change The Air Filter?

You should change the air filter every 6-12 months if you live in a small home with no animals. However, you may need to change the filter as often as every 90 days if you have multiple pets. Dogs and cats constantly shed hair, which can ultimately make its way into your HVAC system.

This will put more stress on an air filter than if you had no pets in your home. Check the air filter frequently if you have pets, so that you can make sure it isn’t clogged. You also may need to change the air filter every 3 months if you have respiratory problems and allergies.

Summing It Up

The evaporator coils in your HVAC system can freeze if the air filter is dirty. Your HVAC system will have to work harder if the filter is clogged, which will make your home take longer to cool down. Clogged air filters can also make your home dusty and cause respiratory problems because of the debris in the air.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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