What Happens When an Air Filter Doesn't Fit?

The air will pass through and around the curve, without going through the filter completely. This can lead to dirt and debris accumulating on the fan, reducing airflow, diminishing performance, decreasing air quality, and creating a mess that you'll have to pay to fix or clean up later. Using an improperly sized air filter won't necessarily damage the air conditioning system right away. However, it does have an impact.

Using the wrong size reduces the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. This can add up quickly and become a more noticeable issue that you're likely to see on your next utility bill. In short, yes, you can cut an air filter if you know what you're doing and if the filters you're using don't weaken too much from the cut. Installing several 1-inch air filters in a 2-slot, for example, can cause costly damage to the air conditioning unit, since residential systems are not designed to withstand this level of air flow restriction.

However, even these reusable filters don't last forever, so you'll need to buy a new one after a few years of use. If you find that a filter isn't doing enough for your allergic or asthmatic symptoms, it's worth trying a specific purifier. The HVAC filter should be changed every 3 months or more often if you have furry pets in the house. Ultimately, the equipment you choose will determine how flexible your system is, how tight it is for your property, and if you need to cut your air filters first.

Do not stack several smaller air filters on top of each other to place them on a larger air controller. The filters don't need to fit an “airtight” seal, but they should be easy to install and uninstall, and the filter should not be so small as to move freely inside the unit. A good air filter helps prevent dust and dirt from accumulating on all internal components of the unit; a bad one will cause additional wear and tear that can lead to serious maintenance problems in the future. This means you'll need to go to a local authorized factory dealer to get models directly from your air conditioner manufacturer, not one-size-fits-all air filters from a hardware store.

Since Covid-19, many HVAC companies have been working hard to design systems that can handle HEPA filters in order to eliminate viruses and bacteria from the air as it circulates. Some studies have been done showing that electrostatic air filters trap more dust and other particles than normal uncharged filters, but more research is needed to determine their actual effectiveness. This is generally not an issue with disposable filters, but make sure you've purchased a replacement filter before removing your existing filter. On the following pages, we'll discuss the function, types, classification system and routine maintenance of air filters in your home heating and air conditioning system.

This not only keeps you safe while working on it, but it also prevents dust from entering the unit while the filter is turned off. If the filter is too small, it won't cover the entire space and may allow dust and dirt to pass through.

Ben Depauw
Ben Depauw

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