What Happens if You Wait Too Long to Change Your Air Filter?

Air filters are essential components of any HVAC system, trapping harmful particles such as mold, pet dander, and bacteria that would otherwise pollute the air in your home. If a filter is not changed in due time, it will simply run out of space to collect more of these contaminants. When air filters are not constantly changed, they become clogged by the accumulation of particles and contaminants that adhere to the filter. This buildup creates a nearly impenetrable barrier so that air cannot fully flow, which can ultimately cause multiple problems to the entire HVAC system. In general, most air filter manufacturers and HVAC companies recommend changing the air filter every 90 days or 3 months.

This may change depending on the location of your home (e.g. dry and dusty climates), if you have pets, and the age of your system and equipment. If you have pets in the house, you should consider changing the filter every 60 days or 2 months, and for households with multiple pets or people with allergies or respiratory conditions, we recommend changing the filter every 20 to 45 days. Vacation homes or vacant homes that don't have much use can usually wait to change filters every 9-12 months. The general consensus is that the more you use your home, the more you need to change the air filter.

An HVAC filter will only last one to three months on average. Which means you need to keep track of the date you installed them. If you wait too long to change the filter, indoor air quality will suffer. The long-term effect of not changing the HVAC filter is the eventual failure of your unit.

However, before that happens, your system will become clogged with dirt and dust from outside. Driving in dusty or rural locations can also cause air filter performance to decline more rapidly, so keep in mind that where you drive will affect its lifespan. A collapsed air filter can get stuck in the fan or create a large space, causing air to float around the filter without leaking out. Some of the common things that filters block are dust, pollen, lint, mold, hair, animal fur, bacteria and more. If the air filter is clogged and can't trap contaminants like it did before, those things can go back to the air that everyone in your home breathes. If air filters are not changed and problems persist, long-term effects could be respiratory disease, heart disease, or cancer.

Once again, the price to solve this problem is higher than simply buying a new air filter every few months. The Minimum Efficiency Report Value (MERV) rating for an air filter measures how effectively the filter prevents dust and other contaminants from passing through the filter into the air stream. Knowing some of the telltale signs of a dirty or clogged filter can prevent you from waiting too long to replace it. If you allow dandruff, dust, and other contaminants to build up in your air filter and reach your home, it can hurt you. If you drive with a lot of traffic on a regular basis, the air filter won't last as long.

You may start sneezing or coughing because the air filter is now clogged and causes your air conditioner to work harder and consume more energy. They are inserted into a specific location in HVAC systems and act as a barrier to prevent contaminants and other particles from circulating in the air or reaching sensitive parts of the system. When you take your car to the mechanic, they will be able to do a quick scan to see what is causing the problem and they will tell you if it's an air filter problem.

Mildred Felts
Mildred Felts

Award-winning pizza lover. General burrito trailblazer. Freelance twitteraholic. Friendly coffee scholar. Unapologetic reader.

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