Do You Need an Air Filter for Your AC?

Do you need an air filter for your AC? Find out why it's important and why you should never run your system without one.

Do You Need an Air Filter for Your AC?

The short answer is yes, your HVAC system can operate without a filter. However, just because you can doesn't mean you should. Running your HVAC unit without a filter is probably OK for a short period of time, but continuing to do so for more than six hours is already delaying it. Unless you want your system to blow dirty air into your home or office and you also risk damaging the unit, it is not advisable to run the system without a filter. Although the answer to this question is yes, your air conditioning system will continue to work without a filter, you should never try to do so.

We understand that you may not always have a new replacement filter on hand when you want to replace your current one, but it's best to wait until you have a replacement filter. Running the air conditioner without a filter is worse than running it with a dirty one. Instead, go to the store as soon as possible for a replacement or call an HVAC professional to have it replaced. Without a filter, your air conditioner risks serious and costly problems. Follow our advice and never run your system without one.

In its most basic function, an air filter removes impurities such as dust, pet dander, or even bacteria from the air that flows through the system. Not only does this improve the air quality inside your home, but it also protects your HVAC system from potential damage. If you use disposable filters, find the exact filter size to purchase and install a replacement filter. By trapping these particles inside your fibers, the filter keeps them out of the HVAC system, helping to protect your family and your air conditioning equipment. In general, filters with a MERV 16 rating or lower are considered HVAC system grade filters for residential, commercial, and general hospital use.

The Minimum Efficiency Report Value (MERV) rating for an air filter measures how effectively the filter prevents dust and other contaminants from passing through the filter into the air stream. We measure how well an air filter removes dust, pollen, and smoke from the air, and see how freely air flows through the filter at any fan speed. In general, most air filter manufacturers and HVAC companies recommend changing the air filter every 90 days or 3 months. Or, thanks to today's smart home technology, you can even purchase smart filters such as 3M Filtrete smart air filters that use sensors to monitor airflow. When you operate your air conditioning system without a filter, dust is absorbed into the indoor air conditioning unit and settles on a part of that system called the evaporator coils. This can cause serious damage to the unit over time if not addressed quickly.

The dust can also be circulated throughout your home or office if not filtered out properly. Because filters have an upper limit of resistance in a residential HVAC system, air purifiers can help provide more thorough air cleaning, removing more than 98% of contaminants when combined with the right set of filters. The only type of filters that trap allergens and spores are HEPA, or high-energy particulate air filters. While HVAC systems equipped with clean and efficient filters are not the only answer to this problem, it is important that HVAC filters at least do not contribute to it. However, this filter is not there to improve indoor air quality, so if you are looking for better indoor air quality in Houston TX, yes, you may need an air cleaner or an air purifier. If you don't replace the air filter often enough, it will work less efficiently or it may stop working altogether due to clogged filters. It's also important to leave the selection of these filters to the professionals, as filters that are too powerful will cut off airflow through the HVAC system, leading to component damage and a loss of home comfort.

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