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Dangers of a Dirty Furnace Filter

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Senior man changing dirty furnace filter from furnace system in his basement.

Your furnace filter plays an essential part in maintaining clean air throughout your home and protecting the inner workings of your furnace, especially the blower fan that helps with proper air circulation.

A dirty furnace filter causes dangers in your home, from poor air quality to potentially replacing your entire furnace. Changing your furnace filters every 3 months can help prevent these dangers from happening.

How Do Furnace Filters Get Dirty?

We rely on furnace filters to catch all kinds of dust, dirt, and debris. Neglecting to change your air filter results in a clogged, dirty filter, as all the material builds up. Furnace filters get clogged by the very things they’re catching if they’re left unchanged for a prolonged time:

  • Dust and dirt
  • Pollen
  • Pet hair or dander
  • Smoke and fumes
  • Leaky ducts in attic and basement
  • Bacteria and viruses
  • Mould spores and mildew
Close up of dirty filter with hand showing dust and debris between filter folds.

What Are the Dangers of a Dirty Furnace Filter?

Compromised Air Quality

When you have a clogged furnace filter, the airflow gets blocked as dust and debris accumulate on the filter and in the duct system. Air gets pushed through the filter along with less favourable particles, lowering the air quality in your house. If you have poor air quality, you and your family may notice related symptoms like headaches, congestions, and eye discomfort.

Ensure your air filtration system is up to the highest standards to maintain optimal air quality in your house.

Furnace Fire

One of the biggest hazards caused by a dirty furnace filter is a fire in your furnace or ducts. In severe cases, if a furnace filter gets so clogged that air can no longer pass through, it can get sucked into the vent.

This is a serious fire hazard that could damage your furnace system and your home. 

Blower Motor Burnout

The blower fan takes the air created by your furnace and circulates it throughout your home. When you have a dirty furnace filter, it fails to protect the blower fan from getting dirty itself, which would cause the blower motor to struggle. Inadequate airflow due to a dirty furnace filter also impedes the blower fan function. 

Overworking your blower motor can cause it to burn out. But, you can prevent this by checking your air filters monthly and replacing them every 3 months.

Higher Energy Bill

When your filter is clogged, your furnace and all its parts work harder to function correctly. Think about something blocking a straw and how much harder you have to work to clear it. This extra work consumes more energy and demands more from your system, and in turn, increases your utility bill. 

More Maintenance Required Later

With dirty furnace filters, your furnace undergoes more wear and tear to clean your air. This overdrive depreciates your furnace system more quickly than if you had a well-oiled machine. As a result of a dirty furnace filter, you’ll likely have to do more furnace repairs and maintenance ahead of your regular schedule.

You can avoid significant and untimely furnace repairs by simply changing your furnace filter regularly.

Replace Your Furnace Filter Regularly

To avoid being blindsided by the dangers of a dirty furnace filter, change your furnace filters at least every 3 months. To keep your furnace running smoothly after you’ve changed your filter, make sure to schedule your annual furnace tune-up and duct cleaning

As always, we are here to help and answer any questions you may have about your furnace.

Written by Ryan Tutak

Ryan is considered one of Calgary's most knowledgeable residential HVAC specialists. Working in the industry for over 12 years, he's helped thousands of homeowners with their heating and cooling systems. Outside of running Calgary's most reputable HVAC business, you can find him on the Golf course practicing his short game or traveling with his family. His main goal is to create a positive collaborative culture, one in which his employees are excited to come in and are motivated to work hard. He spends the majority of his day working directly with Home Comfort Advisors, Service and Maintenance Technicians, and Customer Service Representatives ensuring they are fully prepared to lead the Home Service Industry in Customer Service.
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