3 Ways a Dirty Air Filter Can Affect Your Furnace's Efficiency

If you aren’t keeping up with routine air filter replacement for your furnace, it could ultimately lead to your system breaking down. When this happens, your family could be left suffering in a cold home until you’re able to find a heating repair provider to come service your unit. That could be expensive, and if the damage is beyond repair, you’ll need to shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars to get a replacement. Needless to say, this is an expense that many homeowners likely aren’t able (or willing) to cover unexpectedly. Instead, it’s easier to be sure you’re maintaining your home’s heating system to prevent an untimely and pricey breakdown.

Why is it important to regularly change the furnace filter?

All air passing through your heating and cooling system must pass through the filter. As time passes, this filter can get clogged with dirt, dust, pet hair, and other debris. If you don’t keep up with replacing the filter on a regular basis, it’s only a matter of time before your system becomes less efficient and your home’s indoor air quality suffers.

Not sure how often to change the filter? Check your system’s owner’s manual for directions on when and how to replace it, and for recommendations as to which MERV-rating will be best for your system’s specifications. If the owner’s manual doesn’t provide this information, or if you can’t locate the manual, the general rule of thumb is to replace the filter monthly during the peak of the heating and cooling seasons. You may need to change it more often if you have pets or smokers in your home, or if you have family members who suffer from breathing problems, such as asthma.

How can a dirty air filter make my furnace less efficient?

A dirty air filter than isn’t replaced in a timely manner could lead to the following problems:

1. Premature wear and tear due to system components working harder than they should.

All air passing through your heating system will pass through the air filter. If air flow is restricted, certain components in your system, such as the blower motor, must work harder than normal to push air across the system’s coils and heat exchanger. This puts a lot of extra and unnecessary strain on your system and could cause premature wear and tear. Additionally, this could lead to excessively high energy bills each month.

2. System’s burners shut off due to temperatures exceeding a certain limit.

When your system has restricted airflow, warm air will continue to build up inside the unit’s heat exchanger. When this happens, your furnace’s burners will automatically shut off to prevent the system from overheating and breaking down.

Once the system cools down, the reset switch should turn the unit back on. The constant cycling on/off of the system results in a lot of wasted energy. Also, if the auto reset switch doesn’t turn the furnace back on again, you may need to call a repair professional to take care of the issue as the switch may have gotten stuck because of the dirt and dust in the unit.

3. Hot and cold spots appear, causing annoying home comfort problems.

When the blower fan is clogged with dust, it has to work harder to push warm air through the ducts in your home. When this happens, some areas of your home may feel warmer or colder than they should. Generally, rooms closer to the furnace are warmer, while areas further away, such as rooms on the second floor, may feel cold and uncomfortable.

Since the system is working harder to regulate the temperature in your home, it may have very lengthy “on” cycles. When your heating system is running for extended periods of time, it will also lead to expensive utility bills.

Have questions about maintaining your home’s furnace?

At Oncourse Home Solutions, we offer an affordable Heating Maintenance Plan to help you prevent an untimely breakdown of this vital appliance. To see if the plan is available in your area, please enter your ZIP code in the top right area of the screen.