Reuben's Home Inspection Blog

Don’t Ruin Your Furnace. Change Your Filter Frequently.

December 21st, 2010 | 4 comments

When I think of homeowner maintenance, the first thing I think of is changing the furnace filter. Most homeowners know about this regular chore, and at least one out of five homeowners is diligent about doing this.  As for everyone else…

Do you really know why you’re supposed to change your furnace filter?  Hopefully your dad, your real estate agent, or your home inspector lectured told you about doing this regularly.  There are a couple obvious reasons to change your furnace filter – your heating or cooling system will run more efficiently and the air in the ducts will hopefully be cleaner, but those aren’t the most important reasons for changing your furnace filter.

The most important reason for changing your furnace filter is to preserve the life of your furnace.

To make it very simple, your furnace works by passing relatively cool household air over a big hunk of metal, which is called your heat exchanger.  As the cool air passes over the heat exchanger, it gets warmed, which dissipates heat from the heat exchanger.  This warm air gets distributed throughout the entire home, and this is what keeps the indoor air temperature at 70 degrees when it’s -10 degrees outside.  That heat exchanger is responsible for transferring a lot of heat to the rest of the house.

Dirty Furnace FilterNow think about what would happen to that heat exchanger if it couldn’t transfer it’s heat to the rest of the house:  it would get extremely hot, much hotter than it was ever supposed to get, and it would probably fail (i.e. – crack) prematurely.

When you operate your furnace with a dirty filter, this is what you’re doing to your furnace.  You’re preventing the cool household air from passing over the heat exchanger, heat doesn’t get dissipated the way that it should, and the life of your furnace gets reduced… besides costing you more money in heating bills.

In other words, don’t forget to change your furnace filter.  It’s not just about indoor air quality.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections – Email – Minneapolis Home Inspections

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4 responses to “Don’t Ruin Your Furnace. Change Your Filter Frequently.”

  1. furnace guy
    December 31, 2010, 8:51 pm

    You’re right on with this post. Dirty furnace filters are responsible for numerous service calls as well. Overheating the furnace causes it to shut off on a high temperature safety switch. Doing this once too often will cause the switch to break and this will leave you without heat.
    In the summer, dirty filters cause your ac to run longer, which drives up your electric bill. If you think that outcome is undesireable, it can also cause much worse problems.
    Change your filter once a month with a cheaper pleated filter.

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    September 25, 2012, 3:57 am

    [...] or replace the furnace filter – this should usually be done every one to three months, depending on the type of filter.  The [...]

  3. The Dirt On Expensive Furnace Filters | Structure Tech Home Inspections - Part 1
    June 28, 2013, 3:56 am

    [...] RELATED POST:  Don’t ruin your furnace.  Change your filter frequently. [...]

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    October 22, 2013, 3:56 am

    […] it should, which puts it closer to the temperature at which it will shut itself off.   Throw in a dirty furnace filter, and it will probably be enough to push the furnace over the edge.  When a modern furnace short […]

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