A household furnace puts in steady service through the winter. As it runs, its blower fan pulls in air from the rooms via a return air vent. Plenty of dust, furniture and carpet lint, dander, and other debris can enter the furnace along with this air, but the furnace has a defense against it: an air filter located along the cabinet at the point where the return duct connects with it. (In some homes, the filter is located behind the grill of the return vent in the house.)
Like any filter, a furnace filter will eventually become clogged with the particles it catches. At this point—every 1 to 3 months depending on the type of filter—it needs to be swapped out for a clean filter. If this isn’t done, it can result in a number of different problems:
- A drop in energy efficiency: A furnace cannot work effectively if it must strain to draw air through its filter. As clogging makes this job harder and harder for the blower fan, the furnace will begin to drain excess power, and household utility bills will take a steep rise.
- Internal damage: The filter guards the components inside the furnace from damage. Even a thin layer of dust along a motor can lead to it burning out. When the furnace filter is clogged, it will start to distort from the air pressure and debris slip in around the edges. This leads to more repairs and a shortened system life.
- Overheating: A clogged filter allows air to become trapped inside the furnace, and this eventually triggers the system to overheat. A limit switch shuts off the furnace in this situation, and although this is an important safety precaution, it isn’t something the furnace should do on a regular basis.
Don’t worry if you’re unsure how to change the furnace filter or where it’s located. During the annual fall maintenance for the system (schedule it now if you haven’t yet), a technician will change the filter for you and provide a tutorial on how and when to do it.
Comfort Master Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. serves Apex, NC with quality furnace maintenance and repairs.