It's been a long, hot summer. In fact, July 2015 was the hottest month ever in the history of recorded temperatures. And it's not over yet – in many parts of the country, there are still at least a few weeks of heat and humidity. If you've been relying more heavily than usual on your air conditioner this summer, you may not have been changing the AC filter as often as you should. While changing the air conditioner filter may seem like a small thing, it's actually vital for your comfort, your budget, and even your health. If you've been putting off changing your air conditioner filter, you should check out a few of the consequences for leaving a dirty filter in place for too long.
Your Air Conditioner Won't Cool Effectively
You might not know exactly how your air conditioner works, but you know that it has a fairly simple purpose – keeping you cool. That's all that you really expect from it. If you've noticed lately that it isn't cooling as well as it was in the beginning of the summer, that may be because you haven't changed or cleaned the filter.
Your air conditioner filter collects the dust and airborne debris in your home. No matter how clean you keep your home, it's impossible to escape any floating dirt and dust. When the filter becomes too full of dirt, air can no longer flow through it easily, which means that less cool air is traveling through your vents and into your home, and you end up feeling more of the summer heat.
And even if the temperature isn't noticeably warmer in your home, you'll see the problem reflected in your energy bill. In order to maintain the temperature in the house, your air conditioner is working harder than it should to push air through the dirty filter. That means a higher energy bill for you. To avoid inadequate cooling and higher bills, Energy Star recommends that you change your air conditioner as often as once a month during the summer, even if you change it less frequently during other seasons.
Your Air Conditioner May Be Damaged
If somewhat warmer indoor temperatures and higher electric bills don't bother you, expensive repair bills might. It's hard to imagine a little thing like an air filter bringing down a big appliance like an air conditioner. But that's exactly what can happen to an air conditioner when the filter isn't changed promptly. In fact, air filters are a common cause of AC failure.
When your air conditioner begins working harder to compensate for the dust and debris blocking the airflow through the filter, it can cause more than just an increase in your energy bills. This overwork can also cause the cooling coil to freeze up and the machine's compressor to fail, or it can cause the air handler inside the unit to overheat and break down.
Either way, you're looking at an expensive repair bill that could range from $400 to $1500 if your air conditioner isn't covered by a warranty. And in some cases, failure to change your air filter according to the manufacturers specifications could actually void your warranty, leaving the full burden of the repair bill on you.
You Could Get Sick
While dirt and debris are easily observable when they begin to build up on your AC filter, other things collected by the filter are not so visible. A dirty filter is also a haven for bacteria and fungi. When your forced-air system pushes air through the dirty filters and into the vents, those small particles often wind up going along for the ride, and that means that you end up breathing them in.
This leaves you open to any number of respiratory illnesses. Something as simple as a sore throat or as serious as an upper-respiratory infection can be caused by bacteria spread through air conditioners that aren't well maintained. And the potentially deadly Legionnaire's disease, a respiratory infection that is characterized by a flu-like symptoms accompanied by a high fever and chest pains, has a perfect breeding ground inside a warm, moist air conditioner with a dirty filter.
If you've been putting off changing your air filter, don't waste any more time. The sooner you change the filter, the sooner you'll be safe from warm temperatures, high energy costs, expensive repair bills, and dangerous illnesses. If you're not sure what kind of filter you need or how to change it, contact a local AC service for help or visit a site like http://www.customcomfortinc.com/.