Need to turn up the heat, but don’t have a filter handy? You may be wondering if you can run your furnace without a filter temporarily. Or you may be done with the whole filter business and wonder how your furnace would handle being without a furnace permanently.
It’s true that the furnace can physically run without a filter. There’s no sensor or other mechanism to shut off the furnace when there is no filter, and the filter is not an essential component to turning the furnace on. However, the filter is essential. You can run a furnace temporarily without a filter, perhaps for a night or so. But the longer you do this, the more you’re risking damage to your furnace and other negative effects.
In short, run your furnace without a filter temporarily in emergency circumstances. But get a replacement filter as quickly as you can and try not to neglect your furnace’s need for a clean and functioning filter. Here’s why your furnace needs a filter and what you can do if you find managing its filter too frustrating.
What Does a Furnace Filter Do?
While we tend to focus on what filters do for our health, the furnace in your filter’s first job is to keep debris from the air out of the delicate parts of the furnace. The furnace pulls air right from your home into it, heats it up, and sends it back out. While things like dust and allergens may be very small, they could build up in a furnace overtime, if not for the filter.
The furnace’s filter also has a secondary benefit of removing particles from the air that might otherwise irritate our lungs or impact our health. A clean furnace filter is an important part of having good indoor air quality.
What Happens If You Run Your Furnace Without a Filter?
If you run a furnace without a filter, it will soon develop a coating of airborne debris on the inside. This can create clogs and many other issues including:
- Poor airflow:The debris will clog your furnace and the ductwork it is attached to. This can limit the airflow in the furnace, causing additional stress to its important parts and wear-and-tear.
- Poor heating: With reduce airflow in the furnace, you may find that its warm air does not get as far as it used to. Your home may feel colder, or it may develop cold spots.
- Increased utility bills: A damaged and clogged furnace will run less efficiently, which means it will use more fuel trying to get your home up to temperature. This will cost you more on your utility bills and will overwork the furnace, leading to more damage.
- Overheated furnace: When warmth can’t leave your furnace to get to the rest of the home quickly enough, it builds up in the furnace. An overheated furnace may suffer damage as well.
- Damaged furnace:All of these sources of wear-and-tear may result in damage to the furnace. You can expect your repair costs to go up.
- Broken furnace:A furnace can break under the stresses of not having a furnace. You may need to replace your furnace well before its projected lifespan or spend a lot on repairs.
- Clogged ductwork:The furnace filter also protects the ductwork from developing clogs. If you don’t have a filter, your ductwork will collect more dust and other debris. You may need to clean them more often.
- Poor air quality: Without your furnace filter, the furnace and ducts will blow debris throughout your home when they are dispersing heat. This can make symptoms of allergies and other respiratory conditions worse.
Each of these is a great reason to make sure that your furnace has a filter, and a recently cleaned or replaced one at that. However, many people get annoyed with needing to replace their filter every few months. Are there any alternatives that you can explore?
Are There Furnaces Without Filters?
There are no furnaces on the market that do not have filters. All have some kind of filter in order to protect the inner workings of the furnace from debris. In fact, heat pumps also use filters.
That said, not all kinds of heating systems need filters. So, if you’re tired of managing a filter, you might look into these alternatives:
- Radiant floor heating: These systems circulate heat through your flooring in piping. They don’t need filters, and there’s no chance they will spread allergens.
- Fireplaces: Sure, gas and wood fireplaces don’t need filters. They do need maintenance, though, so if convenience is what you’re looking for, this isn’t much of a trade.
- Boiler and radiator: As they use water to circulate heat, these systems don’t need filter. They typically aren’t as efficient as furnaces.
How to Avoid Filter Inconvenience
Are you annoyed every time you have to buy a new filter and replace the old one? There are a few ways you can cut down on the inconvenience of this task:
- Choose reusable filters: Instead of buying a new furnace filter and stressing over its size and what MERV rating it should have, make the decision once and choose a reusable filter. These can be washed or vacuumed, depending on the type, instead of being replaced.
- Buy bulk filters: You can save yourself some headaches and some money by buying bulk filters and storing them right near the furnace. It’s much more convenient to change them that way.
- Add filters in your calendar: Do you find yourself forgetting to change your filters? Add the date into your calendar now, so you don’t forget.
- Let the professionals do it: As a part of furnace maintenance, your HVAC professional can change or clean your filter for you. Plus, they will perform other maintenance on your furnace that can help you avoid repairs and maintain the efficiency and quality of your furnace.
Changing your furnace filter and making sure that your furnace has a filter in the first place are essential to keep your costs low, get the most life possible out of your furnace, have the most comfortable home, and more.