Bad Idea: Running Your AC Without a Filter

Published on: May 14, 2014
Air filter closeup | AC Southeast®

While most homeowners recognize that air filters are commonly used in connection with indoor comfort equipment, they may not realize the importance of a filter. In addition to cleaning your air supply, the filter protects the equipment in your air handler. Operating your system without a filter can lead to serious consequences as your equipment loses efficiency. Additionally, indoor air quality benefits can be compromised if you fail to maintain your AC filter.

What if My Home Is Well-Sealed?

Although your home may be carefully sealed, there are still pollutants in the air. In fact, your home may be more polluted because of the tight sealing. Sealants restrict the flow of air into and out of the structure, meaning that once materials get in, they stay in. Pet dander, cooking sprays and other products can be floating about in your residence. Additionally, leaks in your ducts may provide access to vermin, causing droppings and debris to contaminate your airstream. The lack of an AC filter may allow these materials to continue contaminating the air in your house.

Can I Re-Use an Old Filter?

Typical AC filters are designed for disposal after use. You should begin your heating or cooling season with a new filter, and you should check at least once per month for excessive dirt. High levels of material collected in your filter can greatly increase its weight, leading to a compromise in its structure. A bent or buckled unit is nearly as bad as not having a filter because gaps allow unfiltered material into your equipment.

You may want to investigate the availability of re-usable filters in specialty stores or with your HVAC contractor. It’s helpful to have a couple of these filters available so that you have a replacement that allows you to clean a filter without having to halt the operation of your home comfort equipment. These filters may be several times more expensive than basic filters, but they can provide years of service, saving money over time.

Efficiency Issues with Dirty Equipment

A typical air conditioning unit loses about 5 percent of its efficiency over the course of a year. This efficiency loss can be compounded by operating equipment without a proper filter in place. In extreme cases, a dirty evaporator coil can add 20 percent to your cooling costs, and the potential need for air conditioning repair may increase, as well. If it’s time to find out more about running your AC efficiency, just contact a reputable Southeast contractor. Our online tools make it easy to find a contractor in your community to help with any of these concerns.