What Happens When an Air Filter Gets Too Dirty?

A dirty air filter can cause a variety of problems for your car, home, and HVAC system. When air filters become clogged and dirty, they restrict the flow of cold air, leading to a buildup of cold air inside the air conditioner and lower internal temperatures. This can cause ice to form on the coils and allow dust and dirt to pass through the ventilation system to your home. It creates more dust, leaves a film on all surfaces, and recirculates that same dust and dirt through the system over and over again.

A visual inspection is an easy way to know if an air filter needs to be replaced. A new air filter is white or off-white, while a dirty air filter will appear darker with visible dirt and debris. Once an air filter is too clogged and no longer working, it can lead to decreased car performance and even engine damage. When the filter becomes too clogged with dust, dander, and debris, then the blower has to work harder to get air through a clogged filter.

This can result in hot and cold spots in your home, making it difficult to achieve desired indoor temperature levels. A clogged air filter will also allow all the dust and debris that needs to be filtered to circulate back to your home. Because not enough air enters the engine, it will not work as efficiently as it should. A dirty air filter reduces the amount of clean air that reaches the engine, which decreases its power and performance.

This inefficiency increases rapidly as the filter becomes more and more clogged, or until the filter is serviced. As noted above, inadequate air in the engine can cause incomplete combustion of fuel in the combustion chamber. In addition to extraneous noises, your vehicle can also vibrate excessively, since not enough air is released from the air-fuel ratio. With less airflow through the system due to clogging, the central air conditioning and heating system will run longer in an effort to heat the house, increasing energy consumption.

One of the best and easiest improvements you can make to your vehicle is to buy a reusable air filter, such as a K&N filter. You can clean reusable and foam filters with specific applications, but you must dry them before replacing them. If you drive a vehicle with an older carburettor, a decrease in fuel economy is a common sign that your air filter is dirty. With inadequate air supply, unburned fuel leaves the engine and may not produce smoke or flames in the process. For more information on how to change your dirty air filter and repair any damage it may have caused, Avery is proud to serve North Carolina.

Whether or not to clean an air filter depends on the type of air filter you use in your car.