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Proudly Serving the Puget Sound Area Since 1977

Yes, a Dirty Air Filter Causes Big Trouble

man-with-filterYou already know that we are huge advocates for routine HVAC maintenance around here. You also know that we strongly urge homeowners to hire skilled, trained professionals to tune up their systems on an annual basis. The process is more complex than many people may realize, and the fact is that this type of maintenance is a job that only experienced technicians can really do right. That doesn’t mean that there is nothing that you can do for your system on your own, though.

There are a few basic maintenance tasks that any homeowner can handle. One is simply keeping the outdoor unit of the air conditioner clean and free of debris, be it fallen branches that have landed on top of the unit or grass clippings that are stuck to the fins. The other, and most important, step to take on your own is changing your air filter. With a fresh air filter in place, you can avoid a lot of trouble—including issues that could result in the need for AC repairs in Stanwood, WA!

Just What Kind of Trouble Are We Talking About Here?

Quite a few different issues can arise with a dirty air filter. No, we want to preface this by saying that you can never truly safely assume that such problems can be resolved with as simple a fix as replacing a dirty air filter. As is the case with just about any AC issue, there are a number of potential causes of these problems. If you do notice them, you should check your filter first and foremost, though. You don’t want to be scheduling repair service when the fix is so simple.

  1. Short Cycling. This is a problem that we’ve talked about before, but it is serious enough to revisit. Your air conditioner should be running in full, even cycles. If it used to, but now just runs in constant short bursts, then you have a problem on your hands. Short cycling can result from overheating caused by increased airflow resistance due to a dirty filter. It strains the system, reduces your comfort, and drives cooling costs up. If the filter doesn’t look dirty, then it’s time to give us a call.
  2. Frozen Coils. Your air conditioner is not generating “coolness” when it cools your home. It is actually removing heat from the air, and then redistributing that cooled air throughout your home. This is made possible through the evaporation of refrigerant in the evaporator coil. If your air filter is really clogged up, though, your system will struggle to remove a sufficient amount of heat from the air (“thanks” to reduced airflow), and the coil can get cold enough to freeze condensation that has collected on it. That creates an insulating barrier, which only serves to exacerbate the problem.
  3. Poor Indoor Air Quality. Contrary to popular belief, the primary function of the standard air filter in your air conditioning system is not to protect indoor air quality. Instead, this filter is there to protect your HVAC system itself from pollutants. Should the air filter become too clogged, however, it is possible for air to pass between the filter and its mountings, which in turn allows pollutants into the system. Air will always follow the path of least resistance, so make sure that your filter is not generating too much!

Contact G & S Heating Cooling & Electric with any questions that you may have! 

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