Can You Run a Furnace Without a Filter?
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Homeowners typically opt for disposable furnace filters because they are cheap and readily available. However, that choice often leads to a common problem where they may need a filter change without having a replacement on hand.
If you’re in that scenario, you may want to run your furnace without one — especially if turning off the furnace until you can find a filter is not an option.
So, can you run a furnace without a filter? Technically, you can, but as the leading provider of professional HVAC service in Lubbock, we can tell you it’s a bad idea. We’ll show you why in this blog post.
The Primary Functions of Furnace Filters
To understand why it’s not a good idea to run your furnace without a filter, you need to first understand what furnace filters do in the first place. The furnace works by sucking in the air in your home and heating it.
Invariably, it will pick up contaminants like dust, dirt, pet dander, hair, and volatile organic compounds. Your furnace filter traps these particles and keeps them from cycling back into the air around your home.
When the air filter becomes too clogged, and you don’t change it, you expose yourself to poor indoor air quality and furnace-related problems.
In What Scenarios Can You Run a Furnace Without a Filter?
The only time you should run a furnace without a filter is if you suddenly find out that the filter is completely clogged and hampering the furnace’s function, and you can’t replace the filter immediately. However, this should be a short-term solution.
You should avoid making the furnace run without a filter for more than a day or two at the maximum before you replace it.
Why Is It a Bad Idea to Run a Furnace Without a Filter?
Here are some of the things that could happen if you use your furnace without a filter for too long:
Poor Air Quality
Your indoor air quality will worsen greatly because there is no filter to keep any contaminants that enter your furnace from coming back out.
The signs of poor air quality include worsening symptoms of respiratory problems such as asthma and allergies and visible signs of dust settling on surfaces.
Higher Maintenance Costs
If you run your furnace without a filter long enough, debris will accumulate inside. The result is faster wear and tear for components in the system, leading your maintenance and repair costs to soar. In worst-case scenarios, you could be looking at early or unplanned furnace replacement.
Reduction in Furnace Efficiency
A furnace without a filter can’t work efficiently. The accumulation of dirt and debris inside will reduce the airflow from the furnace into your ductwork. Therefore, the furnace will work longer and harder to reach your desired temperatures.
In the short term, you’ll notice higher-than-usual energy bills. Over the longer term, your furnace’s life span will drop significantly.
Reduction in Comfort
With your furnace struggling to generate enough warm air due to clogs in the system, you’ll notice a decline in the level of comfort you enjoy around your home. You may notice more cold spots around your home or a sudden rise in humidity levels.
Loss of Warranty Cover
Most furnace manufacturers have strict guidance on using a filter in their products. If you ignore their recommendations, you might void the warranty on your unit. This could mean paying for repair or replacement completely on your own if a problem arises within the warranty window.
How Often Should You Change Your Furnace Filter?
We recommend checking the filter every two to three months to avoid a scenario where you may feel like running your furnace without a filter. If you can see layers of debris or dust on the filter, it’s due for a change.
A quick test is to remove the filter and hold it up against the light. If you can still see through it, it’s good to go for a few more weeks. If you can’t, it’s time to change it.