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- SINCE 1981 -

Serving Orange County

- SINCE 1981 -

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Saddleback Plumbing Heating & Air Blog

Clogged Air Filter: A Simple Problem With Big Consequences

pleated-air-filter

No matter what climate you live in, the clogged air filter in the HVAC system is a major problem. Here in Orange County, our heating systems don’t put in a huge amount of work, but you’ve probably had yours running regularly over the last few weeks when night and morning temperatures dropped into the high 40s. You’ll likely have reason to turn the AC on again before the winter is over—that’s just how our climate works.

No matter if you have the air conditioner, the heater, or just the central fan of the HVAC system running, you’ll need to pay attention to the HVAC filter and have it changed routinely to avoid having it become clogged. This is a basic part of HVAC maintenance in Irvine, CA—one of the few parts of maintenance you can do on your own. We recommend checking on the filter once a month. You’ll know it’s too clogged if you hold it up to the light and the filter blocks out the light. Expect to change the filter every one to three months.

The Consequences of a Clogged Filter

Changing the filter is a simple job—and maybe that’s why people often forget to do it. The negative effects of leaving a clogged filter in place, however, are anything but simple.

  • Wasted power and higher bills: The filter is placed where the blower fan of the HVAC system (which works for both the heater and AC) draws air from the return ducts to use for heating and cooling. A blocked filter will force the motor of the blower fan to strain to draw enough air, and this means energy waste. You’ll see this reflected on your utility bills.
  • Reduced airflow: The less air the fan can draw through the filter, the lower the airflow through the ventilation system. The main result of this is a drop in comfort that will be most noticeable in the rooms most distant from the HVAC system. If you notice cold spots in rooms this winter, it may be a warning of a clogged filter.
  • Overheated furnace: The blocked filter can trap too much heat inside the furnace, and this will often trip the limit switch and cause the furnace to shut down.
  • Tripped circuit breakers: When the strain on the blower motor because of the clogged filter becomes too much, the overload on the motor can cause its circuit breaker to trip and depower the entire HVAC system.
  • Contamination: The filter is supposed to prevent dust and lint and other debris from getting into the HVAC cabinet. Just the opposite will occur if the filter is clogged, however, because the filter will begin to bend under pressure and allow contaminants to slip around the edges.
  • Filter collapse: In extreme cases, a pleated filter may fold because of the strain and fall into the blower fan, possibly causing extreme damage to the fan.

When you stay current with filter changes, you’ll enjoy much better HVAC performance. If you do need repairs because of filter problems, never hesitate to call our team.

Saddleback Plumbing Heating & Air has served Orange County since 1981. Schedule HVAC services with our experts.

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