Air filter damage to your HVAC system can result from several factors. The common denominator in these events is inadequate air circulation. A home HVAC system typically circulates at least 1,200 cubic feet per minute of air throughout the ductwork. When the airflow that’s going through the system drops below the minimum specification, filter damage is typically the most likely cause.

Possible consequences of filter damage include higher furnace or AC operating costs, inconsistent heating and cooling in the house, and even damaging wear and tear on HVAC components. Here are some of the usual suspects in filter damage:

The filter is dirty.

Whenever your HVAC system’s running, the air filter is capturing dust, dirt, lint, and other airborne particulates in the system airflow. As the filter media becomes increasingly dirty, airflow is reduced and heating and cooling doesn’t circulate as effectively. Indoor temperatures become harder to maintain, causing the furnace or AC to run longer cycles, increasing operating costs as well as system wear and tear.

The filter is clogged.

If a dirty filter isn’t replaced on schedule, it will eventually totally clog and obstruct all airflow through the system. This can cause the HVAC system to run nonstop, potentially damaging expensive components like the furnace heat exchanger or the air conditioner compressor, meaning that the house will remain uncomfortably cold or hot. Eventually, the HVAC system will shut down completely.

You have the wrong type of filter.

Filter efficiency is rated by the MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value). Ratings range from 1 (least efficient) up to the high-efficiency (HEPA) rating of 20. High-efficiency filters remove smaller airborne particulates from indoor air. That’s the good news.

The bad news: The more efficient the filter, the thicker the filter is. Excessively thick filters obstruct typical residential system airflow and may eventually result in filter damage caused by insufficient circulation of air through HVAC system components. A pleated cotton or polyester filter rated between 8 and 11 on the MERV scale provides the best compromise between filtration effectiveness and optimum system airflow.

For more info about avoiding common causes of filter damage, contact the HVAC professionals at Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.