There’s a lot that goes into maintaining your Hanover, Maryland home. So much so, in fact, that it’s easy to overlook the seemingly minor tasks. Although changing out a furnace filter takes just minutes, it’s a job that some homeowners regularly neglect. Furnaces should never be used without clean, functional filters. The following are six reasons why.
1. Your Furnace Filter Isn’t for Protecting Your Indoor Air Quality
Regularly changing out HVAC air filters is often the first recommendation you may hear for improving indoor air quality (IAQ). Although this is certainly an effective way to limit the amount of airborne allergens floating throughout your home, it’s often misleading. HVAC air filters aren’t actually meant to improve the quality of your indoor air. Instead, these components are primarily designed to protect your HVAC equipment.
A clean furnace filter will prevent large-sized debris from entering your actual heating system. A filter will catch things like pet hair, lint, dirt, dander, and more. Without it, all of these particulates could find their way onto and even into your furnace’s most sensitive interior components. Massive build-ups of debris will pose a serious fire hazard. They’ll also have a significant impact on how your home smells when your furnace is in operation. For instance, if you turn your heater on and your living environment is filled with a burning, dusty aroma, you likely have a dirty or missing furnace filter.
2. You Could Lose Essential Protections
Sadly, some homeowners wind up spending hundreds and even thousands of dollars to repair furnace problems that are both preventable and filter-related. Dirty HVAC air filters are consistently ranked among the most common causes of a furnace malfunction. This is why home insurance companies, furnace manufacturers, and home warranty companies have clearly outlined requirements in their policy documents, contracts, and agreements concerning filter maintenance.
If you purchased a home warranty covering your furnace, this agreement likely requires you to change its filter once every one to three months. The same is true if your furnace has an existing manufacturer warranty. Whenever companies cover heating systems, they want to know that homeowners are doing all they can to prevent and mitigate potential problems. In addition to requiring regular filter changes, these entities will definitely require you to keep a filter in. If you use your furnace without a filter, the HVAC company that handles your covered repairs will know it. HVAC technicians will invariably find dirt and other debris covering the unit’s components. Thus, to avoid losing essential protections, always keep a clean filter in your heating system.
3. Airflow Problems Will Arise
Coatings of dust and other build-ups will eventually cause your furnace to overheat. If your home is dusty or your heating system is already ill-maintained, this might not take long. However, there’s another problem that can arise from having unfiltered air enter your HVAC system. This is the gradual decrease in airflow. As air movement becomes increasingly restricted by accumulations of debris on air registers, air grilles, or even on various surfaces throughout your HVAC air ducts, you’ll notice less warm air making it into the rooms of your house.
Restricted air movement places extraordinary stress on furnaces by forcing them to work both harder and longer. The end result is that your furnace will overheat, and it may shut down.
4. Your HVAC Air Ducts Will Be Inundated By Dirt and Other Debris
Air ducts are naturally dirty environments. After all, there are a lot of contaminants that regularly bypass standard HVAC air filters. HVAC air ducts are also known for harboring high levels of humidity. Together, these two things are a recipe for disaster. Taking the filter out of your furnace and then continuing to run it will only make the situation worse. Larger particulates will lead to larger build-ups and a greater likelihood of mold and mildew development. Although HVAC air ducts only require professional cleaning about once every three to five years, if you’ve ever run your furnace without a filter in, you should schedule duct cleaning right away.
5. Your Indoor Air Quality Will Plummet
Although furnace filters are largely intended to protect furnaces, they do offer a fair amount of protection for household members as well. When your furnace is on and lacks a filter, the concentrations of airborne dust particulates, pet hair, dander, and other allergens will rapidly increase. This can lead to:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Irritated nasal passages
- Skin irritation
Running a furnace without a filter can be particularly harmful to any building residents with chronic respiratory ailments.
6. Your Furnace Could Fail
The costs of resolving filter-related furnace problems are often far greater than simply swapping a dirty filter out or making sure that one is in. The most devastating consequence of using your home heating equipment without this essential component is replacing your furnace entirely. Although this is unlikely to be the case after just several minutes of filter-free operation, for some furnaces, even short-term use could prove to be the last straw.
Standard furnace filters aren’t expensive. Moreover, if you’ve been using a higher-rated and more costly filter type, you can always revert back to a more affordable option in a pinch. With some households requiring filter changes every thirty days, keeping a few extra in stock is always a good idea.
Why People Sometimes Operate Their Furnaces Without Filters
Although many homeowners have run furnaces with dirty filters at some point in their lives, you may find it difficult to believe that there are also people who’ve turned their furnaces on with absolutely no filters at all. Surprisingly, this isn’t an uncommon mistake, and it’s actually very easy to do.
If you’ve ever started to change your furnace filter and been distracted by an unexpected guest or phone call, there’s a possibility that you left the job unfinished. Sometimes people put new furnace filters in but fail to put them in correctly. There are also homeowners who’ve installed filters in the wrong place or purchased filters that were the wrong size. Using a filter with any of these issues is akin to using a furnace without a filter.
If you recently purchased a home, take a minute to make sure that your furnace has a filter. The former owner may have taken this component out and forgotten to replace it. With a new home, it’s always best to give your heating system a quick inspection before attempting to use it. Small oversights like this can have expensive consequences if they aren’t caught and corrected early on.
What to Do If You’ve Been Using Your Furnace Without a Filter
Whether you’ve been intentionally running your furnace without a filter or have just discovered that your furnace filter is missing, hope is not lost. We can remove build-ups of dirt and grime on your furnace’s interior components. We can also clean your HVAC air ducts and share some of the latest and most effective indoor air quality solutions.
Contact the Professionals
At Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating, located in Hanover, MD we offer heating and cooling system replacement, maintenance, and repair services. We also provide air duct cleaning, custom ductwork, and indoor air quality services. If you’ve been running your furnace without a filter or have questions about what type of filter to purchase, we can help. Call Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating today to schedule an appointment.