Black Filters, Warm Air and Breaker Tripping, Oh My!

Black Filters, Warm Air and Breaker Tripping, Oh My!

summer weather air conditioning raleigh nc

It’s 90 degrees today in the Triangle. Summer weather is here, and your air conditioning system is going to get a workout. To help make sure your system is prepared for its heaviest workload of the year, we want to answer questions we often receive regarding air conditioning this time of year.


Why is My Air Filter Black?

To improve your home’s indoor air quality, filters remove dirt and harmful particles from the air, so it is alarming to see a filter turned black. There are a number of factors that could lead to black air filters, ranging from harmless to hazardous:

air filter dirty black raleigh nc

  • Very dirty air filter. This is the most common reason for blackened filters. 1/2 inch air filters, the most common kind, are designed to be replaced at least every two months. Some may require replacement as often as monthly.
  • Tobacco smoke. Indoor smoking can lead filters to turn black. In this case, the best practice is to replace filters monthly.
  • Dirt and pet dander. If you have pets, excess dirt and pet dander could turn your filters black. In this case, the best practice would be to replace filters monthly, especially during shedding seasons.
  • Mold. Mold is the most dangerous cause of black filters. Mold will likely be accompanied by a sour odor, excess moisture and humidity issues inside your home, and allergies for your home’s occupants. If you suspect you have mold, call a professional as soon as possible.

What can you do about black air filters? Change your filters regularly. If the issue continues, contact a licensed, professional HVAC technician.

Why is My Air Conditioner Blowing Warm Air?

air conditioning blowing warm air raleigh nc

If your air conditioning is on but blowing warm air, it could be indicative of a one of several issues:

  1. Your thermostat may be set to heat. This is a very common mistake.
  2. Your air filter needs to be changed.
  3. Your outdoor unit does not have enough clearance. There should at least two feet of space between your outdoor unit and any shrubbery or fencing.
  4. Your unit is frozen. Ice buildup on your outdoor unit is likely symptomatic of: restricted airflow, low and leaking refrigerant, or another mechanical failure
  5. Your breaker is tripped.

If you breaker is simply tripped, you can flip it back into the on position and your unit should return to normal. However, if it continues to trip regularly, it is likely indicative of a more serious issue that should be addressed immediately.

Why is My HVAC Tripping My Breaker?

If your HVAC is tripping the breaker often, it could be indicative of one these issues:

  1. Dirty air filters. Your system works harder and can use more energy when the air filters are dirty.
  2. Low refrigerant: You should never have to replace refrigerant. If your refrigerant is low, there is likely a leak in the lines that should be repaired as soon as possible.
  3. Malfunctioning components: Problems with the condenser coils, evaporator coils, or motor can all lead to your unit drawing more amperage than usual.
  4. Shorts in wires and other electrical issues

If you are unsure about exactly what is causing one of the above issues, contact a professional. Minor issues can become major, expensive repairs over time.

Quality Doesn’t Cost, It Pays!