5 Common Problems Caused by Dirty Air Filters in Your Furnace

dirty air filter

HVAC air filters are an integral part of your furnace system, and they trap air contaminants like dust, dander, mold spores, and hair to keep them from getting inside the furnace. Air filters help keep you and your family protected and healthy.

Common Furnace Issues

Furnace air filters require consistent maintenance as an essential part of your HVAC system. A dirty or clogged filter can cause problems for your system, your health, and your wallet. 

Short Cycling

When air filters for furnaces get dirty or clogged, they restrict the airflow passing through the furnace. Moving air through layers of dust buildup puts stress on your furnace. It has to work harder and more frequently to maintain the desired temperature, with shorter breaks in between cycles. This is known as short cycling. 

Short cycling puts stress on your heating system, leading to a shorter lifespan and unnecessary costly repairs. If you notice your furnace turns on and off more frequently than usual, it could be a sign that it’s time for a filter replacement.

Higher Energy Bills

Aside from the cost of repairing your unit, short cycling also leads to higher energy consumption. Furnaces are heavy systems that require loads of energy, so when they turn on and off at shorter intervals throughout the day, your wallet will eventually take a hit. 

A clogged filter can cause a furnace to short cycle and reduce its heating abilities. Less air gets through a dirty filter, which means that less heat also does. This can lead to an increase in furnace running time, creating a spike in energy usage. If you notice your utility bill is higher than usual, your home air filter could be at fault. 

Poor Indoor Air Quality

Dirty air filters are a problem for your system’s lifespan and your energy bill; they can also be a health risk for you. Furnace filters capture allergens, dust, and other contaminants in your home’s air. When they become overwhelmed and dirty, these same contaminants can be spread back into your living space. This means an increased concentration of debris floating in your air and into your lungs. 

Sometimes these pollutants can cause headaches and coughing and even trigger allergic reactions. Imagine breathing through a mask with layers and layers of dust and dirt – that’s what a dirty furnace air filter is like. If you feel tired more quickly than usual at home or are experiencing increased headaches, it could be a side effect of a dirty furnace air filter. 

Cracked Heat Exchanger

One of the most common things homeowners neglect to think about is their heat exchanger. Heat exchangers are the part of your furnace that gets hot and transfers the heat throughout your home by pushing it through pipes. 

5 problems caused by dirty furnace air filters infographic

When your furnace needs more air, and it cannot get any because the furnace air filter has become dirty, the heat exchanger will overheat. This can cause a crack in the heat exchanger that lets carbon monoxide into your home. Service professionals have the necessary equipment to identify and offer a solution before issues arise.

Furnace Breakdown

Eventually, a dirty air filter can cause air conditioning equipment to break down. As the filter forces the furnace to work harder each time, the system becomes stressed and is prone to failure. This is common during the coldest days of the year when the furnace has to overcompensate to maintain a comfortable temperature in the home. 

Air blowers can give out entirely if too much stress is placed on them; this can lead to a furnace failure, which can be costly to repair. Compare that price to an inexpensive new filter every few months.

Overworked furnaces tend to show other signs of wear, but failure from a clogged air filter can be easily avoided. If your filter is yellowed, dirty, or packed with dust, it’s time for a change. If you notice any of the other signs of a clogged filter, it’s better to check now than wait until it’s too late. 

It’s important to remember that even the best furnace air filters get dirty and clogged – it’s their job! Depending on the thickness of the filter, they should be changed in three-month, six-month, or yearly intervals. 

Furnace Problems? Call Air Pro!

If a dirty filter has caused your furnace issues or to make a preemptive maintenance visit, make sure to contact AirPro Heating & Cooling. One of our expert HVAC system technicians can resolve your issue with exceptional customer service every step of the way.

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