air filterIf you keep cranking up the heat, but your home stays cold, you might have a clogged air filter. Luckily, this is one of the easiest and most affordable fixes that you’ll ever face with your HVAC system. Just like with your vehicle, a dirty air filter can lead to a host of problems and catching it early is the trick. If you wait too long, damaged ductwork can be costly to repair or replace.

What happens to your clogged air filter? You get reduced air flow, making the entire system less effective and raising your energy bill. It’s the job of an air filter to filter the air before it enters and circulates in the home. Your HVAC system is a refined machine and it’s designed to work best with a certain amount of air flow. When this does not happen, the entire system may fail.

The Snowball Effect

When a filter is less than clean, the fan blades and cooling coils also get dirty. This snowballs into a frost buildup, which in turn stops the system from being able to cool or heat the air properly. You’re making the system work overtime without the right tools—kind of like forcing someone to run a marathon without food or water. They might be able to pull it off (eventually) but not without some serious damage to the body.

Another side effect of a dirty air filter is that allergies might start acting up. People who are prone to mold allergens, dust mites, or have asthma can really suffer when in a building or home with dirty air filters. Tell-tale signs may include coughing, watery eyes, sore throat, headache, congestion, chronic fatigue and wheezing. Keep in mind that some people develop allergies as adults, and that cold that won’t go away might actually be a complication from a dirty air filter.

Prevention is Key

Have your HVAC system checked by a contractor every autumn and spring, right before you start using your A/C or heater on a regular basis. It’s possible to simply check the air filter yourself, but a contractor has what it takes to look for other problems, as well. In the long run, a simple checkup will be much more affordable than a serious repair or replacement jobs. Plus, if someone in the house does have allergies, an easy check can prevent a season of suffering.

Your HVAC system is meant to make you and your loved ones comfortable—take full advantage of it. Every machine needs a little TLC, so add this to your spring cleaning and autumn checklist. A dirty air filter can cause a number of issues and it only takes a fast check to keep everyone comfortable for the season.