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By Tom Moor
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Posted 8/1/23

Your air conditioner will run without a filter, but you shouldn’t try it! Without a filter, you leave your system wide open to all types of dirt and debris that will damage the HVAC system and lead to expensive repairs.

Risks to Your HVAC System Without a Filter

The air filter’s job in your HVAC system is to keep the unit clean, especially the blower motor and evaporator coils. Dirt is the number one cause of air conditioner and heating system breakdowns. Here are some potential problems that can occur in your unit if you choose to run the air conditioner without a filter installed:

Condensate Drain Problems:

Without a filter for your air conditioner, your condensate drain won’t be able to perform its job of draining condensation and moisture from your unit. Condensate accumulates on the Freon tubing and then drips down to the pan. The pan drains outside and helps your air conditioner with dehumidifying the air in your home. The filter keeps debris from gathering in your condensate drain and clogging it, causing water damage to your system.

Air Quality Problems:

The most common problem with running an air conditioner without a filter is decreased indoor air quality. Dust is stirred in a home when the AC unit is running and continuously cycles throughout the air, never settling. The dirt, dust, and debris is sucked back up through the intake, pumped back through the air vents, and remains suspended in the air until someone breathes it in or it clogs the unit.

Freon Tube Problems:

An air conditioner pulls air from your home and blows it across copper tubes filled with Freon. These tubes are always wet and when unfiltered air blows across them, dirt and debris stick to the condensate and coat the fins. When this occurs, your system performs inefficiently and overloads your air conditioning system.

Ductwork Problems:

Any dirt and debris that doesn’t stick to the Freon tubes will travel down the line to your ductwork. The debris will accumulate inside the ductwork, becoming trapped by the ribbed aluminum tubes. This allows moisture to build up inside your ductwork, creating the perfect place for mold to grow. Mold spores will begin to circulate throughout your home whenever the HVAC system is running and cause health issues to you and your family.