putting an IR filter on the front of the lens without converting the camera will not damage the camera, although it will prevent imaging of any kind as well until the filter is removed.
DSLRs have an IR-blocking filter right in front of the camera sensor to prevent IR from degrading visible light images. The conversion process removes this filter thus allowing IR wavelengths to be captured by the sensor.
By putting the IR filter on your lens (which blocks all light except IR), you have cut out all the visible light from entering the lens. The IR light that does make it through the filter, however, is stopped by the IR blocking filter on the sensor. Thus, no light at all is reaching the sensor and your images will be black. That is why the remote test did not work- the IR emitted by the remote is still being blocked by the filter on the sensor, hence the need for conversion.