You may be familiar with the idea of a clogged air filter and know that it calls for immediate repair to your air conditioner or heat pump, but why is it such a severe issue? And why does it need to be addressed quickly?
Any HVAC system, whether it’s a heat pump, AC, gas or electric furnace, or even an oil-based furnace, replies on consistent airflow to operate properly. When the filter is clogged, this flow is reduced and the blowers have to work harder to move the proper amount of air. This can obviously reduce the effectiveness of your HVAC system. But in addition to causing discomfort, there can be long term effects as well. The results of a dirty air filter can be equivalent to what happens if you close off vents for long periods of time.
As the airflow is restricted, an AC or heat pump in cooling mode begins to experience the evaporator coil freezing up. Refrigerant still flows through the coils, but the lack of airflow means there is no heat being absorbed by the coils, leaving the refrigerant to fall below a freezing point. The problem comes in when the AC is turned off for a few hours, or the heat pump is set to heat mode. The coils begin to defrost, which can allow the water to overwhelm your drains and serious water damage to occur.
Inability to Heat
In a heating situation, the restricted airflow can reach a point where the heating just does not occur. As airflow is more restricted, the heat exchanger increases. Each furnace has a limit switch built in so that if the temperature exceeds a set threshold, the switch will open. In some cases, these feature an automatic reset, but when an air filter is clogged the problem will occur repeatedly and the furnace will not provide heat. The limit switch may even get stuck in an open position which requires replacement of the part.
In a well working system, there is a particular amount of pressure that the duct system and air handler were designed for. This will be recommended by the manufacturer of your equipment for optimal functioning. A dirty filter changes the pressure inside the system, therefore changing the airflow through the air handler and ductwork. When not operating at the recommended pressure, your system could begin to experience mechanical issues and efficiency issues. A change in air pressure can change the function of other components such as the evaporator coil, which may lead to larger issues in the future.
Making sure you keep your air filters clean and remove any debris is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your HVAC system functioning properly. If you fear there may be long term damage from a clogged filter, contact Comfort Experts for a consultation. Keeping up with regular maintenance can help avoid expensive repairs in the future.