What Happens if You Don’t Change Your Air Filter Often Enough?

Homes need a lot of maintenance to stay in top working condition, and it can be tempting to skip certain tasks like changing out your heating and air system’s filters as often as recommended. You might be wondering, “What’s the worst that can happen if I skip a few air filter changes?” But if you forego regular maintenance, you run the risk of needing more costly heating and AC repairs down the road. Here’s what changing your air filter regularly can help you avoid.

Climbing Energy Bills

When your air filter is clogged, air can’t flow as easily through your duct system and your entire house. That means the system has to work harder to distribute air. This takes more energy and, in turn, increases your monthly heating and cooling bill.

Uneven Home Temperatures

A clogged filter makes it hard for warm or cool air to get where it needs to go. That can mean some rooms become drafty in the winter or stay sweltering hot in the summer, even when the system’s running on full blast.

Built-Up Contaminants

Air filters are designed to trap debris, dirt, allergens, and anything else that can end up in your home’s air that you don’t want to breathe in. A dirty filter holds onto those contaminants, which means they can end up right back into your home if left untended.

If anyone in your home suffers from allergies, a dirty air filter will likely exacerbate their symptoms. But even if no one in your household has allergies, you might notice getting more headaches, itchy eyes, sore throats, and dizzy spells. If the air quality in your house gets really bad, you’re risking worse long-term problems like respiratory diseases, cancers, and heart disease.

Increased Wear and Tear on Your System

There are a lot of moving parts in your home’s furnace and heating system, and dust and debris aren’t good for any of them. Dust build-up in your ducts can damage them over time, making everything in the system run slower and take more power to operate. The average lifespan of an HVAC unit is 15-20 years. Without regularly changing the air filter, you can expect your system to only last 5-10 years.

How Often Should You Change Your Air Filter?

When in doubt, ask a trusted HVAC contractor and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Most manufacturers recommend changing basic filters every 30-60 days, but that can change depending on your family:

Pet-free households: Every 90 days

Households with 1 pet: Every 60 days

Households with multiple pets or with any allergy sufferers: Every 20-45 days

Single-occupant homes with no pets: Every 6-12 months

Vacation homes left vacant most of the year: Every 6-12 months

Again, when in doubt, check with your HVAC contractor and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Performing regular maintenance on your HVAC probably isn’t your favorite weekend activity, but taking care of your HVAC system will keep your home comfortable and clean. And if you ask us, that’s well worth the trouble!

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