Installing an air filter in the wrong direction can have serious consequences. Not only will it waste energy, but it can also damage the air conditioner or heating system and reduce indoor air quality. The filter is designed to remove a large amount of unwanted debris, but only when installed in the right direction. If the filter is installed backwards, air will struggle to flow through the filter material and your air handler will have to work overtime to compensate for the loss of airflow.
This can lead to a decline in indoor air quality, as the filter will not be able to capture dust particles when air moves through the filter in the wrong direction. The biggest damage that can result from a filter installed upside down is that it can damage your HVAC system and reduce its life expectancy. An AC filter installed upside down will greatly slow down airflow, your oven will have more difficulty operating, and the likelihood of a system failure increases. In addition to looking at the direction arrows, all air filters are built in a certain way depending on what type of filter it is and how long it is designed to last.
A higher MERV (Minimum Efficiency Information Value) rating is not always the best way to do this. When a filter is installed in the wrong direction, it can quickly become clogged with dust, pollen, dander and other particles. When the filter is installed upside down and starts to prevent air flow, air may begin to circulate around the cardboard frame of the filter, which is not that difficult to do. This allows particles to accumulate unevenly, causing the oven to work even harder to extract air.
Dirty ducts can mean moldy smelling air and a lot of extra dust, so having an inverted HVAC filter can cause system damage, mold problems, poor indoor air quality, and other problems.