Furnace filters are essential for maintaining air quality in the home, maximizing energy efficiency, and preventing the need for service calls. During repair and routine maintenance appointments, heating technicians sometimes find clogged devices that nobody has bothered to change in a long time. Even worse is someone removing a dirty filter and continuing to operate the furnace without one. Read on to learn more about how the air filters can affect the functionality of your furnace.
The Purposes of Filters
Furnaces draw air through return registers. Dust particles, bits of pollen, and perhaps some strands of hair come along. The register grates catch much of this, but some slips through. One purpose of the filter is to block those materials from reaching the interior of the appliance and making it dirty. The second purpose is to stop the materials from blowing back into the home through vents.
Problems With Plugged Filters
A plugged filter makes the equipment work significantly harder to push air through. That increases the risk of a breakdown since any worn parts are more vulnerable to malfunctioning. Heating system repairs will likely be necessary.
If the device is packed with debris, the furnace may actually begin to overheat. One sign of this is the appliance repeatedly running for a few minutes and then turning off. When someone in the household checks the filter, it may look alarmingly filthy. What if there's no replacement product in the home and no way to get one until tomorrow?
Operating Without a Filter
Heating service technicians urge their customers never to operate the furnace without a filter in the compartment. However, if the appliance is overheating, this might be the only option. Doing so overnight shouldn't cause any problems, although cleaning around the return registers first is advisable.
The problem with this tactic is the possibility of forgetting to replace the device relatively soon. If the equipment operates for several more days, dirt can accumulate inside. That also is a risk factor for a breakdown and the need for repair work. For instance, the flames on dirty burners will not burn evenly, which decreases the heat produced. Now the furnace must work harder to reach the set thermostat temperature. If the ignition system gets too dirty, it might be unable to start the furnace.
Once the home's residents realize what has happened, they should insert a new filter and call for service. A heating technician vacuums and brushes out debris that has built up and could cause problems. This is an optimum time to replace worn parts.