Should I Run My AC System Without a Filter

October 19, 2023


Air conditioning is vital in Charlotte, where temperatures average over 82 degrees during summer.  Thus, any North Carolinian homeowner would prioritize their air conditioner (AC) when considering the proper care and maintenance of a home and its systems.

Why You Need an AC Filter at Your Charlotte, NC, Home

Homeowners should always call in an HVAC professional when big problems arise, and keeping the air filter clean can help avoid malfunctions. Read on to learn more about the filter's role in maintaining AC systems and their cleanliness. 

AC Filters 101

An AC filter exists to clean the air entering and circulating through the AC system. Material within that filter captures airborne particles as air is drawn through the system. Typically, an AC filter contains spun fiberglass, pleated paper, or cloth in a cardboard frame. The filter is placed in a return air duct or ducts shared by the heating system near the bottom of the furnace. The filter captures unwanted materials, preventing occupants from breathing them in: 

  • Allergens such as pollen
  • Mold
  • Animal hair and dander
  • Dust and dirt
  • Bacteria
  • Particles of wood, plaster, metal, and other home materials

Running Your AC Without a Filter

Can you run your air conditioner without a filter? Technically, you can run your system without a filter, but only briefly. Running an AC system without a filter is unwise; even a dirty filter is better than none. Homeowners who are unsure how to replace a filter should consult the AC’s operating manual or enlist an HVAC professional to make a service call. Running an AC system without a filter puts the system in danger of potentially significant and costly damage.

What if I Run My AC Without a Filter?

Running a system without a filter can lead to many problems, from decreased home comfort to system failure. Among these issues, some of which could lead to significant repair costs and system downtime, are:

  • Higher energy bills: Without a filter, systems must work harder to suck in contaminants. Greater energy consumption equals higher energy bills.
  • Poor air quality: High-quality air filters remove almost all  airborne particles. While most filters aren't entirely efficient, the indoor air quality drop could harm home occupants' health without any filter. 
  • Motor and compressor issues: When motors or compressors fail or underperform, the problems  can be traced back to system-straining dirt and debris. Blocking that dirt and debris with the correct filter should help an AC system operate with less effort and greater longevity.
  • Dirty ducts: Duct cleaning can be an expensive and invasive procedure. Air filters lessen the particles that can enter and build up in ductwork, avoiding airflow and air quality issues.
  • Water damage: Without an air filter, condensate drains can become clogged. Condensate is humidity (water) extracted from the air. With no place to go, it may back up and damage the system.

Breathe Easy With Brothers

Many air conditioning systems are complex, and many homeowners fear doing more harm than good in the name of maintenance. Let Brothers’ experienced HVAC techs keep your system humming. Contact us today to schedule a complete system check and tune-up at your Charlotte-area home.

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Last Updated: May 10, 2024