What Happens When You Use a Smaller Furnace Filter?

Using an undersized furnace filter can have serious consequences such as costly damage to an air conditioning unit. Learn how to choose the right size furnace filter and why it's important.

What Happens When You Use a Smaller Furnace Filter?

Using a filter that is too small for your furnace can have serious consequences. It won't cover the entire space, allowing dust and dirt to pass through. This can cause costly damage to the air conditioning unit, as residential ovens are not equipped to withstand this level of air flow restriction. To ensure you choose the right size filter for your oven, it's important to check the manufacturer's specifications or ask your HVAC technician for help.

The filter only works if air has to pass through it. If there is a gap of 1, a disproportionate amount of air will flow through the hole, making the situation even worse. Choosing the right size for the filter will allow it to do its job properly. You can find the recommended filter size for your unit model in the table titled “Find your air conditioner and oven filter by make, model number and size”.

Since HVAC technicians come to your home and evaluate your specific unit, they know what type of filter your furnace can handle and which one is best for your system. One of the most important ways to take care of your oven or air conditioning system is to maintain a filter that works properly. Typically, you'll see filters with a MERV lower than 4 in residential ovens, window-mounted air conditioning units, or as a pre-filter in commercial units that need multiple filters. While filters with a higher MERV rating capture more particles from the air, a higher rating isn't necessarily the right choice for all ovens.

An oven filter that is too small or too large for the oven will allow air to pass through the filter. Installing several 1-inch air filters in a 2-slot, for example, can cause costly damage to the air conditioning unit. Always follow the filter size guidelines to ensure you choose the correct size filter for your oven. Choosing the right type of filter for your oven along with routine maintenance will keep your costs low and your oven running smoothly. From ensuring the right fit to choosing the right thickness and density for your needs, using the right filter makes a significant difference in cost and efficiency of your oven.

Knowing environmental factors in your home and neighborhood that may affect your oven filter will help you determine how often you should change them. When determining if this would be a good idea for your oven filter, keep in mind that its main purpose is to create a perfect fit that allows all air to pass easily and directly through it. Having to bend and force the filter into the boiler is a clear indicator that it is too large. If you have to clog the air filter to install it, try a different oven filter or a custom-sized air filter with a slightly smaller actual size.