Can You Put A Wet Filter In Your Air Conditioner?

Running the air conditioner without a filter is not recommended, nor is running the washable one while it is wet. There is no problem with damp, but not with wet.

It is easy for your AC system to break if your air filters are wet. Getting the desired temperature will require the unit to run for longer periods and work harder.

A massive strain will be placed on the system as a result. The AC will continue to work until it breaks down. In most cases, this involves massive repairs.

Wet air filters in the central air conditioning system of your home need to be looked out for.

Water can render the filter ineffective and alert you to another problem with your A/C system. The problems can become even worse if the wet air filter is not addressed.

How Does an Air Filter Get Wet?

How Does an Air Filter Get Wet

By maintaining a clean, fresh, and dry HVAC air filter, unwanted particles, such as pet dander, mold spores, pollen, and bacteria, can be removed from the household air.

The result is higher indoor air quality as well as improved system performance and protection of system components.

The quality of indoor air can be diminished when a filter is wet, causing mold and mildew to grow on the media. Besides limiting airflow, wet filters also block cooling and air distribution processes.

The evaporator coil is housed in the inside unit of a central air conditioner. Heat and moisture are removed from household air by the refrigerant in the coil.

Under the evaporator coil, moisture drips into a condensate collection pan as the refrigerant removes heat. Once that is done, it should safely drain away.

Flooding and damage to the A/C unit can occur around the inside of the collection pan, and the drain is clogged.

There is also the possibility that it will soak into the air filter. If the air conditioner isn’t installed correctly, if the filter is inserted wrong, or if it hasn’t been maintained properly, the air filter may become wet.

As a result of these problems, condensation from the evaporator coil may enter the air filter.

Wet AC Filter: Should You be Concerned?

You shouldn’t let air filters get wet. They generally don’t get wet from many things. The damp air filter, however, should not be taken lightly. A wet filter in your home or office can cause a number of problems.

Wet Air Filter Results in Mold Growth

Wet Air Filter Results in Mold Growth

The smell of mold is overpowering, it’s gross and it’s dangerous. It is possible to encourage mold growth inside an air conditioner by using a wet air filter. You will quickly catch the spores in the ductwork, spreading them throughout your house.

As far as mold is concerned, it is not dangerous immediately. Nonetheless, it can cause respiratory symptoms, allergies, and permanent damage to the brain and lungs if left untreated.

If an air filter is wet, it creates the ideal environment for mold to grow. An organism such as mold can grow fast because it is a resilient fungus.

It is important to replace the air filter and determine the cause of the dampness if you want to prevent this from occurring in the future.

Create a System Freeze

Create a System Freeze

An additional problem caused by wet air filters is the freezing of the system. For the cooling unit to work, air must move inside the unit. In damp weather, air cannot move rapidly enough. The result may be frozen drainage pipes or freon leaks.

It will only worsen the situation by increasing condensation in the evaporator coils, which is why your air filters are wet.

If it gets into locations where it freezes and expands, this condensation can rapidly cause damage. If the pipes burst, freon and water will be sprayed everywhere.

Puts Massive Pressure on the System

In addition to short cycling, damp air filters will also cause the system to overheat. Unless the thermostat detects the indoor air temperature as you set it, your system will continue cooling.

If the air filter is wet, the machine cannot detect that the air is cool. During this process, the compressor will be continuously turned on. You may find this to be very annoying to your ears as well as very detrimental to the air conditioning system.

A large number of moving parts are involved in an air conditioner due to the interconnected network of electricity, air, and refrigerant that keeps them running.

Over time, something will break if it keeps going on and off too frequently. Consequently, the system will be subjected to more wear and tear.

Reduction in AC Power

Reduction in AC Power

Like the air conditioner’s nose, air filters work to keep the air fresh. During air intake, the device collects harmful particles that can cause damage to the unit. The filter must be changed regularly if you want the unit to run efficiently and cleanly.

The unit has difficulty breathing when the air filter is clogged with moisture. Its power is reduced since it can only cycle a limited amount of air.

A stuffy nose makes you run around, so it’s similar to running around with a stuffy nose. Your breath will become short more quickly.

When it’s hot outside, your air conditioner won’t be able to cycle enough air. As a result, you’ll have to turn down the temperature to be comfortable, increasing electricity consumption.

Why Is My AC Filter Wet?

Why Is My AC Filter Wet

You most likely have a leak coming from either your internal AC unit or condensate drain line if you notice your air filter is wet or even damp when you go to change it. The following are the three most likely causes of the leak:

Frozen Evaporator Coil

AC systems must have an evaporator coil to absorb heat from the home’s air. As heat and moisture are absorbed from your home’s unconditioned air, the evaporator coils are filled with cold refrigerant.

Nonetheless, evaporator coils can become so cold that they freeze when there are a few issues. This can cause your air filter to become wet if the ice starts to melt and overflows the drain pan.

Clogged Condensate Drain

Wet air filters are most likely the result of clogged condensate drain lines. When your AC operates normally, the condensate drain line drains moisture to the outside. 

Note: Your AC doesn’t just cool your home; it dehumidifies your home as well, which is why it produces moisture during normal operation.

It may cause moisture to build up in your indoor unit and leak down; however if there is a clog or backup in the condensate line. A wet AC filter is possible during this process.

Think you have a clogged condensate drain line? Take a look at these steps:

  1. Check your outdoor AC unit for a drain line (it will usually be near it).
  2. Use a shop vac to create a water-tight seal at the end of the line
  3. Allow the vacuum to run for 2-3 minutes.

A clog in the drain line likely caused most debris to accumulate in the shop vacuum after doing this. Your filter should be dry, and if it continues to stay dry, the problem should be resolved.

Nonetheless, if it does not stop the leaking or the filter is wet again, keep reading for a few other reasons it may be leaking.

Leaking Drain Pan

In addition to dehumidifying your home, your AC is responsible for heating and cooling it. A drain pan collects all of the moisture pulled out of the air as your AC dehumidifies your home.

The condensate drain line slowly drains moisture from the drain pan into the environment. When the drain pan is cracked, water can also leak down the indoor unit, which can wet your AC filter.

You’re most likely experiencing drain pan leaks because of age. Whenever the drain pan is constantly full of moisture, it can rust and crack, leading to leaks. Consequently, if your problem involves a leaky drain pan, you’ll need a tech to replace it.

What To Do If My AC Air Filter Is Wet?

The first step you should take if your air filter is wet is to replace it.

You can think of your filter as a “bouncer” that only allows the good stuff (i.e., clean air and small particles) into your HVAC system and blocks the bad stuff (large dust particles and harmful contaminants).

Nevertheless, a wet filter will not allow enough air to pass through your return vent. The lack of adequate airflow will reduce the efficiency of your AC, ultimately increasing your bills and putting undue stress on its components.

Wet air filters can also cause your HVAC system to perform less efficiently and harbor microorganisms such as mold and bacteria.

By catching debris in your home’s air, the air filter keeps your AC system from picking up harmful particles. Those microorganisms have a nice, damp place to grow in a wet filter, which can be bad for your air conditioner and your health.

To summarize, if your AC filter is wet, replace it.

Final Words

You should schedule routine air conditioning maintenance at least once a year. Trained technicians must prevent issues that may lead to a wet air filter.

It is also important to periodically inspect the air filter to ensure that it does not get wet, as well as the condensate drainage system to ensure it isn’t backing up.

Leave a Comment