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How Leaving an HVAC Filter in Place Can Lead to Repairs

air-fliter-cuIf there’s one piece of advice we would give local homeowners to help them avoid needless heating repair in Chapel Hill, NC, it would be… 

Okay, we couldn’t settle on one thing. That’s because we want to help our customers enjoy the best heating possible, and that means giving out all the advice we can. But, if we made a list of tips to avoid heating system malfunctions, the first item we’d put on that list is: “Regularly change the HVAC system’s air filter.” It’s an easy step to take, and an easy one to forget.

That’s often the problem with these easy steps. They sound so simple that they can sound unimportant. But regular air filter changes for an HVAC system are critical for many reasons. Below is a list of how you can end up with heating repairs during the winter because of a filter left in place.

The blower fan motor burns out

The filter is in place to stop debris in the air coming through the return air vents from entering the HVAC cabinet. The blower fan is what moves the air through return air vents, so if the filter becomes excessively clogged, the blower fan will have to work harder and harder. It’s like trying to breathe through a stuffy nose. The extra strain can cause the blower motor to overheat and even burn out. Thankfully, you’ll often get a warning this is occurring when the circuit breaker to the heating system trips.

Dust and debris get into the cabinet

You don’t want dust inside the HVAC cabinet, where it can damage moving parts and interfere with the burner assembly and ignition system of a furnace. The filter is there to stop this from happening, but it can’t do that job well if it’s clogged. A clogged filter will start to distort from the air pressure on it, and this opens up gaps around its edges that allow in dust and dirt—and future bad news for the HVAC system!

General excess wear and tear

A congested filter places stress on most components in the HVAC system—both the heater and the AC—that will cause the system to wear down faster. This means more repairs and also can translate into a shorter system lifespan. 

The filter collapses into the blower assembly

This is an extreme case, but it can happen if a pleated filter becomes clogged enough. The pleated filter can collapse from the air pressure and fall into the blower assembly, causing immense damage to the fan. This may lead to having to replace the entire air handler.

How often do you need to replace the HVAC filter to avoid this? It depends on the filter. Permanent filters should be taken out and cleaned monthly (although we recommended using replaceable filters, as they’re stronger). Screen panel filters should be replaced each month. Pleated filters can be replaced every two to three months, and some special media filters only need to be replaced every six months. Feel free to contact us with any questions you have about changing your air filters: we’re always happy to help.

Call Comfort Master Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. for service throughout the Triangle Area of North Carolina. Serving you is what we do best!

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