What Happens If You Don’t Use an Air Filter in Your AC Unit?

what happens if you don't use an air filterMy cousin Dan is dealing with not one, not two, but three teenage sons—all of whom have active social lives and play sports. For a while, Dan was a full-time chauffeur, constantly driving them all around to their many social and recreational obligations. Recently, though, they’ve gotten old enough to drive themselves and are splitting the costs of owning a car. Dan couldn’t be more relieved—or at least he was until he went to move the car out of his driveway recently and noticed they’d gotten it about 2,000 miles overdue for an oil change.

As an HVAC guy, you could say I’m philosophically opposed to neglecting machine maintenance. We talked to the boys about the problems this can cause in cars, but it got me thinking about what the HVAC equivalent is of neglecting your oil change is. In my opinion, it would be not regularly changing your air filter.

I know folks are busy, but regularly changing an air filter is a simple thing that makes a huge difference. That’s why today I want to talk about what happens if you don’t use an air filter in your AC unit, or if you go months without changing out your dirty one.

The Truth About What Happens If You Don’t Use an Air Filter in Your AC Unit

Using an air filter—and changing it out every month or two—is incredibly important if you want your AC to run smoothly. Despite what some people may think, it is not an optional piece of equipment. In fact, air filters are completely necessary if you want to have a functional AC and a healthy home. I can just about guarantee that if you don’t use one, or if you don’t change it regularly, your house won’t be a very pleasant place this summer.

what happens if you don't use an air filter in ac unitHere are just a few of the things that can happen if you don’t use an air filter in your AC unit, or if you don’t change it our frequently enough:

  1. Poor air quality
  2. Damage to your air conditioner
  3. A sky-high energy bill
  4. An AC that freezes up

#1: Poor Air Quality in Your Home

Your AC’s air filter is responsible for filtering nasty gunk out of the air in your home so that what you breathe in is pure, clean, and free of allergens. If you don’t have a filter in your HVAC, you’re going to have a bunch of particles in your home. This will not only mean that you’ll have to vacuum a lot more frequently, but you may be sneezing and wheezing a lot as well. The same thing will happen if you have a super clogged up old filter. The dust and debris that gets trapped in it will recirculate in your home, resulting in air quality that is less than desirable.

#2: Damage to Your AC Unit

As I mentioned above, if you have a dirty, old filter in your AC—or don’t have one at all—debris like dust and hair can build up in your unit. This can cause pretty significant damage to your AC system. If dust and debris get caught inside the air conditioner, it can clog up parts and prevent them from working properly. Plus, all the buildup of dust and debris can restrict airflow and cause your AC to overheat and shut down. It could even do permanent damage to your motor, which means you’d have to replace it. If you want your AC to stay in great shape and last as long as possible, using an air filter and changing it out often is key.

#3: A Whopping, Sky-High Energy Bill

If your AC is all congested with particles from the air, it’s going to have to work extra hard to circulate any cool air in your home. Typically, when an AC has to work too hard it short-cycles, meaning that it turns on and off a lot more frequently than it should. Not only does this make a racket, it also uses up a lot of extra energy—and we all know energy isn’t free. Expect to see a bigger energy bill if you don’t have a filter or change yours on the regular.

#4: An Air Conditioner That Freezes Up

Another thing that can happen when you neglect your AC air filter is that the gunk that accumulates in your system restricts the flow of cold air. This often means that chilly air will accumulate in your AC system, lower its internal temperature and make the coils all icy, freezing up your AC unit. When this happens, you’ve got to call an HVAC pro to come and get you out of the pickle you’re in.

Why Air Filter Maintenance Matters for Your AC Unit

The number one excuse I hear from clients who are having HVAC problems because they didn’t use a filter in their system or they didn’t change it out regularly is that they’re busy. Look, I’m a busy man too, so I totally get it. Unfortunately, in this day and age, that is no longer a good excuse.

You see, there are some great HVAC companies out there, like our team here at Bell Brothers, that can change out your filter for you, which saves you the time and the hassle of doing it yourself. The best part is, you can schedule your regular filter changes in advance so that you don’t even need to give it a second thought. While you’re at it, you can also schedule your bi-annual HVAC maintenance so that your entire system will be in tip-top shape and last as long as possible.

I totally get that not everyone is as passionate about machine maintenance as I am—my cousin’s sons included. I do know, however, that if your AC breaks down in the middle of the summer because you’ve neglected it, you’ll be kicking yourself.

At Bell Brothers, our trained HVAC professionals would love to help you keep your AC running smoothly by regularly changing out your filter for you. Contact us today to schedule a free in-home consultation.

Image courtesy Unsplash user Marina Laduda