Winter has arrived in the Haverhill area, meaning that it’s the time of year to fire up the furnace and get your home heating system up and running. But if you’re finding that the heat isn’t coming out the way you’d like, be it because of decreased airflow or shorter cycles of air, the answer may be as simple as a clogged air filter. While air filters are easy to replace, ignoring them can have a long-term negative effect on your home HVAC system.

Air filters play an essential part in your home HVAC system all year long, but in the winter, dirty air filters can make a huge difference in your comfort. Because furnaces usually use a heat exchange method to heat or cool your home’s air, existing air is pulled in from other rooms by the unit’s fan.

That means dust, pet hair, dander and other fine particles are also drawn in as part of the heat exchange. Air filters help prevent buildup in ducts and protect the heat exchange at the heart of your furnace. Over time, this buildup can clog your air filter. More buildup on your air filter means less air can get through back into your home.

But that’s not the only impact that dirty and clogged air filters can have on your HVAC system when left unchanged. As the weather changes throughout the year in the Haverhill area, unattended air filters can create such other problems as:

  • Higher energy bill costs. Your HVAC system needs a constant recirculation of air, and a clogged air filter makes it that much harder for air to get in and out of your ducts on the way to the heat exchange. As a result, your system has to work harder to get your home to the desired comfortable temperature. The harder your fan works to get air throughout your house, the higher your energy bills will be. According to the Department of Energy, that means a home with clogged air filters can require up to 15% more energy usage than a home with a clean air filter.
  • Increased health risk. Clogged air filters are congested with dust, pet hair or dander and, often, chemicals that have been already filtered out of the air. When air blows back through a dirty filter, it takes that dust and debris and puts it right back into your home. For people with allergies or respiratory conditions, this can be an increased health risk, especially in the winter when it’s often too cold to open a window to allow fresh air into your home. Keeping your air filters clean is an easy way to keep your air clean and reduce the risk of winter sickness.
  • Failed heating system. If you ignore your air filters for long enough, the gradual buildup of dust and debris can make it so that your HVAC system breaks down. The harder your system has to work to pump air into your home, and the longer the amount of time it has to do this, can lead to parts breaking down. These kinds of drastic problems can lead to reducing the life of your heating system—meaning more repair costs, or even the need for an entire new system. That kind of downtime for your home heating system, often at the time that you need its heat the most, far outweighs the hassle of taking the time to check and replace your air filters on a regular basis.

So, when was the last time you replaced your home air filters? A good rule of thumb is to replace your air filters every three months (right around the time you should be replacing the batteries in your smoke detectors). But if you can’t remember exactly the last time you changed your air filter or want a professional to make sure that your filters, ducts and HVAC system are working at peak efficiency, give the team at Climate Zone a call at (978) 912-7677 or schedule an appointment online. Our experts can answer questions about where your air filter is, what kind of air filter you will need and more.