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Can I Run My Furnace Without a Filter Temporarily?

Dec 21, 2020


Cropp Metcalfe technician standing next to a furnace and thermometer in the winter.


It happens to all of us. You’re going about your normal life when you realize you haven’t checked your furnace filter in a while. When you do get around to checking it, it’s so full that you wonder: can I run my furnace without a filter temporarily? Maybe the furnace can run without a filter for a bit while you go purchase a new one.


Before you get too far into this dreamscape, the answer is a hard, resounding no. While your furnace can technically operate temporarily without a filter, you’ll put it at risk of severe damages that are expensive to repair, in addition to jeopardizing the health and safety of you and your family.

Can I Run My Furnace Without a Filter Temporarily?

While your furnace still runs without a furnace filter, you should never attempt to operate your furnace without a furnace filter properly in place, even for a temporary amount of time. Using a furnace filter (and regularly replacing it as needed) is an essential part of keeping your furnace running optimally and keeping your air quality pure.


The primary purpose of an air filter in your furnace is to keep dust, debris, and other airborne particles from building up inside your unit. With air constantly moving through your furnace and through your home, these particles can build up quickly, even in the time it takes for you to run to the store and grab a new filter. When the buildup happens, it can cause malfunctions in your furnace that require a professional furnace inspection, cleaning, and even costly repairs to resolve. It also presents health and safety risks for your family.


In short, you should never run your furnace without a furnace filter.

The Dangers of Running Your Furnace Without a Furnace Filter

Running your furnace without a furnace filter, even for a temporary time, can cause serious issues for your unit. Here are some of the dangers of running your furnace without a furnace filter:

Poor or Dangerous Air Quality

Running your furnace without an air filter will allow dust and air pollutants to travel throughout your home, transferring into the air you and your family breathe. This can trigger serious allergies or other respiratory issues. 

Pollution in Your Ducts

If you run your furnace without a furnace filter, air pollutants can easily settle into your ducts, restricting proper air flow and causing other health hazards. Since moisture from humidity can be present in your ducts, dirt and debris can stick to the walls of your ducts and lead to dangerous mold growth.

A Furnace Breakdown

The main purpose of a furnace filter is to protect the operation of the furnace itself. Without a filter, there’s no line of defense to protect your furnace from dirt and pollutants. The inside of your furnace can quickly become coated in dust and grime that can cause components of the furnace—like the evaporator coils or the blower motor—to break down.

Furnace Fires

Running your furnace without a filter leads to dust buildup which increases your fire risk, especially if the particles collect around electrical components of the furnace. This can happen even in a relatively short period of time. 

Keep Your Furnace Safe

Make sure you’re using a clean furnace filter when running your furnace. Taking good care of your HVAC system will extend its longevity, keep your home comfortable and protect your family’s safety. 


Need a professional to take a look at your furnace? Call CroppMetcalfe at 1-877-740-6657 now or schedule a service appointment online



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