With Punxsutawney Phil predicting six more weeks of winter, it isn’t quite time to put away your winter boots or turn off the furnace yet. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Whether you’ve used it a lot this year or not, the wellbeing of your furnace is important to maintain so it’s around when you need it to be. But that doesn’t mean issues won’t ever arise. When they do, how can you know whether it’s a dirty furnace filter or something more?

What Happens When Your Air Filter Is Clogged?

To identify the problem, you should be able to identify when your furnace filter is clogged. When this filter is clogged, the air handler has to work harder to push air through.

As a result, all kinds of problems can arise, like an overheated heat exchanger that shuts off at all the wrong times. This can lead to not only a cold house but a broken “limit switch,” which means the furnace won’t heat up at all.

This problem can cost you every bit of $200, but what if there was a way to prevent it? Is a filter replacement really all it takes? The answer is usually yes.

If you’re not convinced, here are five more problems that can arise.

1. Increased Energy Bill

With your furnace doing all that extra work to push air through, it’s going to leave your unit running for longer periods of time and your energy bill is ultimately going to go up.

When you regularly replace the filter, you also allow clean air to push through your furnace so it can ultimately come out of the other side clean and warm. When you leave dirt and other contaminants for too long, that can become all you breathe in.

2. Longer Heating Times

Not only are your bills going to rise, but so is the amount of time it takes to heat your house. When the blower fans that power your air filter become too clogged with dust, dirt, and other debris, it becomes harder for air to be pushed through.

Yes, this is going to cost you more money as a result, but it also means you’re going to be cold for longer periods of time.

On average, one heating cycle is around 10-15 minutes long. If your furnace is running for longer periods of time, you should take a look at the filter you have in it.

3. Damage to the Heat Exchanger

Not only can a clogged furnace air filter negatively affect the amount of airflow in your home, but it can also cause the heat exchanger to become too warm and shut down. Something similar can happen with the evaporator coils in your HVAC unit, causing them to freeze up.

Dirty filters are an indirect cause of both of these issues. Both cause short cycling issues that make it harder to heat and cool your home and therefore cause damage to the overall unit.

Replacing your furnace filter before and during the winter months is crucial to its wellbeing, just like replacing the filter for your HVAC system before and during the summer months is. Taking this small step consistently can increase the lifespan of your furnace, allowing to keep you warm for years to come.

4. Unhealthy Air

If the air in your house is unhealthy or dirty, there may be someone experiencing flu-like symptoms on a regular basis. This could also mean more allergens are lingering in the air, but neither is good. Here are a few things you can be on the lookout for:

  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Stuffy nose or sinuses
  • Sneezing, coughing, body aches

If these symptoms persist for more than a few days, you should visit a health professional, but you should also double-check your furnace filter to see if that is the culprit.

5. Furnace Failure

We’ve already touched on this, but it’s worth repeating. A dirty air filter can cause your furnace to break down.

Now that we’ve hammered that point home, it’s important for you to recognize that replacing a dirty air filter is one of the easiest, but most helpful things you can do to keep your furnace running all winter long.

If you live in an apartment complex, they’re often free for you to receive every 30 days. If not, you can buy them in multi-packs at many grocery and department stores — be sure to check any measurements before you leave to buy one!

Replacing it is going to depend on the unit you have, but it’s going to be a similar process to replace them in any unit.

Start by making sure the furnace is off, then locate the service panel and remove it. Simply slide out the existing filter and slide in the new one. Then you’re free to turn the furnace back on.

Other Maintenance Tips

While checking the air filters in your home is a great way to take care of your furnace (and even HVAC system), there are other things you can do as well:

  • Keep vents and ducts clean
  • Inspect the furnace exhaust pipe regularly
  • Keep vents open

Taking these extra steps can help maintain the longevity of your furnace, and save you from making the call to a professional. Though they sometimes can’t be avoided, it’s better for them to get there and step right past any preventative maintenance and get down to fixing any larger issues your furnace may be facing.

Avoid a Dirty Furnace Filter

Now that you’ve heard all about the problems that can arise as the result of a dirty furnace filter, you can take better care to make sure it gets replaced regularly.

Things happen though, and Guy’s AC and Heating is here to help when they do. Instead of ripping your hair out after your furnace has broken down again, turn to the experts!

Whether it’s an installation or repair, contact us today and we’ll be happy to help.