can you run ac without a filter

Can You Run AC without a Filter?

Your air conditioner’s performance depends on its many components working together, including the air filter. The filter plays an essential role in the cooling system’s functionality, but some property owners are unaware of its significance.

A common question HVAC contractors hear is, “Can you run an AC without a filter?” The short answer to the question is yes, but it’s complicated. As one of the top providers of heating and cooling services in New Jersey, Eastern Shore Heating & Air Conditioning understands the potential consequences of running an air conditioner without a filter.

Purpose of AC Air Filters

Most residential air filters consist of spun fiberglass or sheets of pleated cloth or paper inside a frame. The filters are usually in the AC unit’s return air duct. 

The filter cleans a building’s air by trapping particles and contaminants inside your home. The screen’s design and material prevent unwanted materials like pollen, dust, pet hair, and dander from circulating through your property and clogging the air conditioner. 

Problems of Using Air Conditioners without Filters

After knowing what an air filter is, you might still ask yourself, “Can you run an AC without a filter?” Technically, you can run the HVAC system because the screen does not impact the cooling unit’s ability to turn on or off. 

However, running the equipment without a screen to trap debris is unwise. Though it’s also not advisable to operate an air conditioner with a dirty filter, it’s a better alternative than not having one. 

Here are some damaging and costly problems you could experience if you run your AC without a filter. 

Poor Indoor Air Quality

Without a filter to trap airborne allergens and contaminants, your home could have a severe drop in indoor air quality. Air pollution extends to more than fumes from vehicles and manufacturing plants. Indoor air can be more polluted than outdoors due to humidity, mold, cleaning chemicals, paints, cooking fumes, and other pollutants.

Altogether, lacking an air filter will promote dust circulation while making your indoor air uncomfortable and unhealthy. 

Damage to Interior Components

Dirt, dust, and debris are enemies of an AC unit’s interior. Without a filter to block particles from settling on components like the AC motor and compressor, the inside of the cooling system will quickly become dirty. Dirt and debris will force the HVAC system to work harder to remove heat from the air, leading to premature wear. 

Condensation Drain Clog

The condensation drain transports the condensation from the evaporator coils into a condensation pan for disposal. Without an air filter, the drain can quickly develop blockages from the debris clogging the system.

Because the condensation drain helps remove excess moisture from the air, a clog can leave your home feeling humid and stuffy. The clog will also force water back into your air conditioner, leading to water damage.

Selecting the Best Air Filter for Your Home

Consider an air filter’s MERV rating when looking for your home’s most suitable option. MERV, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values, refers to the filter’s ability to trap particles.

The rating system ranges from one to 20. The higher the number, the smaller the particles the filter can contain. For instance, a filter with a MERV rating of eight can trap particles as small as 3.0 microns, including dust lint, cement dust, dust mites, mold spores, and pollen.

When selecting an air filter for your home, consider using one with a rating between eight and 13 for optimal particle-trapping ability. MERV ratings between 13 and 16 are more suitable for commercial buildings and hospitals.

Furthermore, a MERV rating above 16 is too complex for a standard residential or commercial property because they trap particles smaller than 0.30 microns. You can usually find these top-rated filters in laboratories, pharmaceutical facilities, surgical rooms, and places with radioactive or carcinogenic materials.

Maximize Your AC Filter and Cooling System with Eastern Shore Heating & Air Conditioning

Now that you know the answer to “Can you run an AC without a filter?”, turn to Eastern Shore Heating & Air Conditioning for all your HVAC needs. Our certified HVAC technicians can help you determine the best filter for your HVAC system, install it, and replace it. We also use our decades of industry experience to install and maintain all heating, cooling, and ventilation systems in New Jersey. 

Contact Eastern Shore Heating & Air Conditioning for help choosing an air filter and more. Call us today at (732) 800-9416 to request a free estimate.