Can a Dirty House Air Filter Make You Sick?

A clogged filter can cause your heating and cooling system to become inefficient, leading to premature wear and tear, total system failure, or costly utility bills. But what about the potential health risks? People with allergies, asthma, or respiratory diseases are especially vulnerable to the effects of a dirty air filter. When an air filter is clean, it filters out dust, mold spores, pollen, and other airborne materials. But when it's dirty or “full”, its ability to filter these particles decreases drastically.

This can cause a chain reaction of health problems, from exacerbating cold and flu symptoms to triggering an asthma attack. If you or a family member has been sneezing, coughing, and generally not feeling well, it may be due to a dirty air filter. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) recommends that those affected frequently check their air filters and replace them every three months. Refer to the owner's manual that came with your heating system to determine how often to change the filter and what MERV rating is recommended for optimal air cleanliness and system efficiency.

Dust, pollen and dirt get trapped deep in the air filter and a vacuum doesn't have the power to remove them all. The best way to start cleaning air filters is to not start at all - just replace them. If you have pets or smokers in your home, you may need to change the filter more often to avoid problems with indoor air quality. While the air conditioner may feel good when it can no longer withstand the heat, it could actually worsen allergy symptoms.

After all, your filter's primary responsibility is to prevent contaminants from reaching the air your family breathes. But in addition to making your machine work better, they can monitor air quality and make sure the filters work to keep you healthy.

Kristy Letman
Kristy Letman

Typical music practitioner. Professional beer enthusiast. Hipster-friendly pop culture buff. Proud travel geek. Proud social media fan.

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