Do Air Conditioners Need a Filter to Work?

An HVAC system can certainly function without a filter, but this is not recommended. Without a filter, the system will draw in air that is full of debris and return it to the indoor environment, which can lead to health issues. The answer to this question is yes, your air conditioner will still work without a filter, but you should never try it. We understand that you may not always have a new filter ready when you need to replace the old one, but it's best to wait until you have a replacement filter. Running the air conditioner without a filter is worse than running it with a dirty one.

Instead, go to the store as soon as possible for a replacement or call an HVAC professional to have it replaced. Without a filter, your air conditioner is at risk of serious and costly problems. Follow our advice and never run your system without one. Filters are not designed to block air all the time. Regardless of the type of air conditioning unit you use, they should be inspected and maintained regularly.

Yes, the central air conditioner has a filter. In fact, most central air conditioning units have two or more filters. These filters clean the air and ensure good air quality as the unit circulates between indoor and outdoor air. Depending on the type of filter you have, six months is the longest you should go without replacing or cleaning the filter. If you use disposable filters, find the exact filter size to purchase and install a replacement filter.

If you have dirty filters in your air conditioner or you don't have any filters, dirt and debris will accumulate inside as they stick to the coils and fins, creating a thick layer of dust on the coils. If you don't replace the air filter often enough, it will work less efficiently or it may stop working altogether due to clogged filters. This is perhaps a little more obvious, but without the air filter to filter dust, your air conditioner will now spread dust all over your home.

Ericka Lampp
Ericka Lampp

Friendly pop culture specialist. Infuriatingly humble zombie aficionado. Subtly charming internetaholic. Unapologetic coffee guru. Hipster-friendly zombie lover. General coffee buff.

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