Most of us are aware that the air filters in our HVAC systems have an important role to play. You may even be in a good routine of checking and changing your filters regularly. So, it can come as an unpleasant surprise when you open up the system expecting a dusty filter to find it is damp and musty smelling. While it may be tempting to ignore the problem, there are a number of reasons why your filter is damp and underlying issues that may cause problems in the future.
One of the most common reasons for a damp air filter is condensation. The thermal interaction between the warm air inside your home and the evaporator coil naturally creates condensation. Cooled refrigerant, in a liquid state, is circulated through the evaporator coil to absorb heat from the air inside your home. This dehumidifies the air and creates condensation. Normally, this condensation is directed into a drain pan that is connected to a drain to carry the water away from the more sensitive components of your system. Unfortunately, if a fault develops with the condensate drain system, additional moisture can develop inside the system, which can create a damp feeling to air filters.
In most cases, this is a fairly simple fix. It is common for the drain pan to develop a clog or the pipe connected to the pan to become dislodged. With a little attention, a technician can ensure that the drain pan is back to working properly, which will eliminate excess moisture and condensation inside the system. In some cases, the excess moisture may be due to a leak or fault within the system that would need to be detected and corrected to resolve the problem. While this may take a little more time, again it should be a relatively simple matter for an experienced HVAC specialist.
If your system features a whole home humidifier, it may be the culprit of your damp air filter. A control valve fault could be the underlying cause of dampness inside the system as saturated air is passed directly through the air filter. This can also impact your indoor air quality as the air will feel more humid. This could create issues for those with respiratory conditions, and it may encourage mold growth within the home.
Getting the Problem Solved:
While it may not appear to be a major issue, a damp air filter is a sign that there is something wrong with your HVAC system. Moist, damp conditions can encourage the growth of mold and mildew, so if left uncorrected, you may find that your indoor air quality is adversely affected. Fortunately, a professional HVAC specialist has the skills and experience to diagnose and correct the underlying issue. Although some moisture is needed for proper air conditioning function, high levels of moisture can be a symptom of serious issues that can compromise energy efficiency and performance, so if you have noticed that your air filters feel damp, it is important to call in a professional technician to assess your system.