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When talking about air filters, we run the risk of sounding like a broken record. We’ve published numerous stories touting the importance of changing your air filter, but today we’re here to answer a simple question: can I run my furnace without an air filter? The answer is a little complicated, but it boils down to one thing: just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
To quickly answer the question, yes you can run your furnace without an air filter, but we very much recommend against doing so. One of the biggest reasons you shouldn’t run your furnace without an air filter is because you risk the quality of your indoor air.
The fundamental purpose of an air filter is to block indoor air contaminants from getting into your treated air supply and HVAC system. Your HVAC system is constantly recycling air from inside your home. Think of all the dirt you, your kids, and your pets track in. That dirt, and other debris, will be sucked in through your return vents and cycled back through the HVAC system. Instead of being caught by an air filter, this debris hangs in the air until it is inhaled or stuck inside your furnace.
Any air that circulates through your home must first pass through ductwork. This ductwork attaches from your furnace to your home’s registers. Ductwork plays a large role in the quality of your indoor, treated air. An air filter also works to maintain the cleanliness of your ductwork.
If you were to run your furnace without a filter, you run the risk of mold growing in your ducts. When debris is allowed to accumulate in your ductwork it can attach itself to the aluminum tubes and foster the perfect environment for mold growth.
Contrary to popular belief, an HVAC air filter does more than protect your health, it protects your equipment. Believe it or not, the air filter’s first purpose was to protect the system, not the people breathing the treated air.
If a furnace were running without an air filter, dust, dirt, and other debris could quickly collect in the machine itself. This debris will buildup. The effect of this buildup is that it will clog and damage your system. To save yourself from large repair bills—or even from having to buy a new system—we recommend running your system with a clean air filter.
The best thing you can do for your furnace is to regularly change your air filter. At Service Champions, we recommend changing the air filter at least twice per year; once before furnace season and once before AC season. If you have hairy pets, you may want to check your filter more often. If you don’t feel comfortable checking the air filter yourself, ask an HVAC tech the next time someone is over for a tune-up or repair.
Are you curious about the filter in your HVAC system? Then make an appointment with the expert technicians at Service Champions. We make sure our techs are knowledgeable with up-to-date information about HVAC products and procedures. Service Champions is the only Diamond Certified plumbing and HVAC business in Southern California. If you’re in Los Angeles, Orange, or Riverside county, call the number at the top of the screen or click here to book an appointment online.