How Dirty Furnace Filters Can Affect Your Family’s Health

There is a lot of stuff hiding in your air conditioning system. These include pet dander, pollen, dust, dust mites, mold, mildew, mold spores, fungi and fungal spores, rodents, and insects.

dirty furnace filters

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels

The ducts may also have bacteria viruses and smoke from the kitchen. Failure to clean these ducts can affect the health condition of family members. Here is how.

Fungal infections

When the furnace filters are dirty, the furnace is less effective in filtering the air released into your home. Fungal spores will infiltrate into your indoor air, exposing you to the risk of fungal infections. Inhaling the mold can result in lung and nasal cavities and fungal infections. Unlike bacterial infections of the lungs and nasal cavity, fungal infections do not respond to antibiotics.

To treat fungal infections, you need to use antifungal medication. In severe cases of infection, fungal infections can resist treatment. Worse yet, the medication can cause side effects, such as diarrhea, headache, abdominal cramps, blood pressure, and alterations of your taste.

You need to clean the furnace filter every month and replace it after three months of use. Failure to do that might cause reduced airflow and increase the heat in the furnace. Get your filter checked before it damages your system and necessitates getting a furnace replacement.

Worsen pre-existing respiratory conditions

When the air filter can no longer filter air in your home, dust, pollen, and other particulates come back to your living space. Family members with allergies and asthma will be more affected. The particles circulating in the home will trigger increased asthma and allergy attacks, making the members sick.

If you or any of the family members suffer from pulmonary health conditions, replacing a dirty filter and cleaning the ducts will make their condition better. Failure to replace or clean the filter will only exacerbate the condition and can even damage the furnace.

Sinus infections and cold

If the filter is dirty, your family will experience coughing, sneezing, runny noses, sore throats, nasal congestion, low-grade fevers, and headaches. They may also develop upper respiratory infections, thanks to the dirt that comes from the ducts. If not corrected, the conditions can develop into something worse, such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

Some filters can trap bacteria and viruses. If these infiltrate your indoor air, they can work their way into sinuses and cause infections. These same bacteria can cause the common cold and other related symptoms.

Regular cleaning and maintenance of your air conditioning system, including changing the filters, can help reduce these risks. This is why you should find a unit that is easy to handle. Lots of families are switching to an HP22 series pellet stove that is compact, lightweight, and easy to operate. This appliance burns compressed wood pellets to create a soothing flame.

Make the skin dry and itchy

A dirty filter is not able to trap mold and mildew. If these substances are in circulation in the house, they can worsen skin conditions, such as eczema, hives, and rashes. Further, all these skin conditions and several others mentioned above can leave you feeling tired and worn out. The body is always trying to fight off bacteria and illnesses caused by the dirty air filter. When the immune system is overworked, it makes the body feel tired.

Pets are also affected by mold and mildew. The pets may develop itching, and they may have red spots on their body. In such instances, the pet is having ringworm or a fungal skin infection.

Inflammation and stress

Mold further causes an increase in histamine levels, which triggers systemic inflammation. This condition makes it challenging for you to breathe, can alter blood pressure, cause gastrointestinal problems, and places the affected at risk of developing cardiovascular disease and renal problems.

Mold exposure can also lead to histamine intolerance. This condition causes watery eyes, diarrhea, runny nose, hives, breathing issues, and itching all over the skin.

Even after cleaning or changing the filter, the air vents may already be very dirty with particulates. Again, the symptoms of the above conditions may last for a few weeks after you have cleaned or replaced the air filter.

As such, you need to ensure that the air filter does not accumulate so much dirt that it causes health complications. Scheduling filter cleaning or replacement and duct cleaning services with a professional can help you and your family stay safe.


The air filter does not get dirty in a day or two. It takes a month or more not clean or replace the filter. If you fail to clean or replace it, you place your furnace at risk of damage.

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