Can You Get Sick from Not Having an Air Filter?

If the air filter is clogged and can't keep contaminants out of the air as they should, those elements can return to the air you breathe. As a result, immediate problems could include itchy eyes or throat, headaches, and more. As long as you change your air filter regularly, you can minimize the effects of dirty air. Contaminants and small contaminants can make you sick if you don't keep the filter clean.

It is still unclear whether not having an air filter can make you sick. While some studies suggest that it can, others say that it cannot. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) believes that dirty air filters may be to blame for certain allergic reactions and sinus congestion in people who are sensitive to animals, pollen, and mold. An air filter is designed to collect and house allergens and allow them to circulate around homes when the air conditioner is in use.

If the filter is clogged with dust, airflow is restricted. This can cause your heating and cooling system to work harder than it should, leading to premature wear and tear, total system failure, or costly utility bills every month. When an air filter is clean, it filters out dust, mold spores, pollen, and other airborne materials. However, when an air filter is dirty or “full”, its ability to filter these particles decreases significantly.

Over time, contaminants build up in the ducts and are free to blow throughout the house. Inhaling these contaminants can worsen symptoms associated with a cold or respiratory infection, not to mention the flu. For people with asthma, these particles can cause an asthma attack. The ACAAI recommends that those affected frequently check their air filters and replace them every three months if they are disposable.

One of the purposes of an air filter is to filter out all microscopic particles such as dust, pollen, pet dander, bacteria, plant spores and mold, and even smoke. Sliding a wet filter back into the air conditioner only causes icing and other problems; trying to dry the filter is likely to damage its delicate surface.