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Riley Heating & Air Blog

The Importance of Regularly Changing the AC Filter


We’ve mentioned the air filter for your HVAC system in previous blogs. If you have a standard combination of air conditioner and furnace inside a cabinet, then there’s a single air filter for both of them. We sometimes call it the “AC filter” or “furnace filter,” but it’s the same type of filter whether you’re using your HVAC system for heating or cooling. 

Now that it’s the late summer, we want to make sure you know the importance of keeping this filter clean with regular changes. If you’ve been using your AC throughout the season—and we’re sure you have, considering how hot it’s been!—but have left the same air filter in place, you’ll start to encounter serious problems with your home cooling. This filter needs to be changed every 1 to 3 months (depending on its strength), so if you’ve had the same filter in since spring, it’s overdue to be changed!

A clogged air filter is trouble

This filter isn’t in place to clean your home’s air (although it does have a minor effect on it). What it does is block debris from getting into the HVAC cabinet along with the air the blower draws in through the return air ducts. This debris can cause damage to motors and impair the effectiveness of the AC’s evaporator coil, so the filter is an essential part of the AC’s regular operation. It will take from 1 to 3 months for the filter to become dirty enough that it will start to restrict airflow into the HVAC system. That’s when the troubles start.

AC inefficiency

One of the first problems a clogged air filter will cause is a drop in AC energy efficiency. (This applies to the furnace in winter as well.) The blower motor must expend more energy to draw air through the congested filter, the same way a person’s lungs have to work harder to draw air through a congested nose. As efficiency decreases, utility bills will increase, often steeply.

Reduced cooling effectiveness

A fan that’s struggling to draw air through the filter will not provide a large enough volume of air for the AC to cool. This will lower how effective the AC is at providing comfort, and the system will need to run longer and longer to attempt to reach the standard thermostat settings. Reduced airflow from the vents will also harm the cooling effectiveness of the HVAC system. 

Frozen evaporator coil

A common AC problem that a dirty filter may cause is a frozen evaporator coil. If the blower fan can’t push enough warm air around the coil, the refrigerant inside the coil will stay too cold and start to freeze moisture along its surface. This will eventually cause the AC to be unable to provide any cooling.

Damage to internal parts

A clogged filter will defeat the purpose of the filter: to protect the interior components from dust and other debris. The filter will distort if it’s too dirty, allowing debris to get around the edges.

So if you haven’t changed the air filter yet, now is the time! Create regular reminders so you’ll stay current on clean filters for the HVAC system.

You can Rely on Riley when it comes to air conditioning in Columbus, GA! Contact Riley Heating & Air for AC service in the Chattahoochee Valley Area.

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