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Atlantic Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, Inc. Blog

What Happens If You Run an AC Without the Filter?


A major piece of advice we like to give our clients about their air conditioning systems is to regularly change the air filter. This filter is sometimes called the “blower filter,” since it’s usually housed near where the blower pulls air into the HVAC system. Changing the filter is a part of regular maintenance for an air conditioner: it’s something our technicians do as part of air conditioning maintenance in Milford, DE, and it’s also a job homeowners need to take care of themselves during the rest of the season. We recommend changing this filter every 1 to 3 months, depending on the filter’s strength. Leaving it in place will lead to it clogging up, which severely affects AC performance and efficiency.

“So why bother with it at all?” you might ask. “Why not just run the AC without the filter?” 

This isn’t a solution! The filter does an important job, and removing it entirely will lead to damage to the air conditioner, extra repairs, and likely an early replacement for the system. Below are some of the specific problems that running an AC without a filter can cause. 

Damage to the blower

The AC filter isn’t in place to help improve air quality but to protect the interior of the HVAC cabinet from debris that comes through the return air ducts. The blower is the first component in the line of danger from dust and dirt infiltration. If the blower becomes too dirty, its motor could overheat because of all the friction placed on it. The blower may also start tripping the circuit breaker.

Problems with the evaporator coil

The part of an AC that is most vulnerable to the dust and debris that will sweep in without a filter in place. If the coil begins to collect dust, it won’t be able to extract as much heat from the air. Not only does this force the air conditioner to work harder to do its job, but it has the potential to cause the coil to freeze over because the refrigerant inside will remain too cold. Ice on the coil will continue to build up until the AC isn’t removing any heat from the air. 

Condensate trouble

The dust and debris getting into the air conditioner will affect the condensate drainage system that removes the moisture from the system. The drain in the condensate pan will become clogged, leading to build-up of water that will leak from the AC and promote mold and mildew growth inside the system.

Poor air quality

The blower filter doesn’t do much to improve air quality. That’s not its main job. However, its absence will make air quality far worse, as the HVAC system will continuously circulate the same amount of dust and dirt around the house. 

So please, keep the filter in place in your AC—only take it out when it’s time to put in a new one. If you need any assistance with doing this job, please ask our team. We can show you how during maintenance.

At Atlantic Refrigeration & Air Conditioning, Inc., “We Take Pride in Your Comfort”! Schedule air conditioning service with our team today.

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