My AC Breaker Keeps Tripping: Common Culprits & How to Fix It
If your AC breaker keeps tripping, it can be a frustrating and confusing problem. If your air conditioner is tripping the breaker, there can be a range of issues behind it, such as a dirty air filter, dirty condenser coils, fan damage in the outdoor unit, a faulty compressor, damaged or loose electrical wiring, or a bad circuit breaker.
You might not know what’s wrong with your AC circuit breaker or how to fix it. Don’t worry – we’re here to help! The Cincinnati air conditioning repair experts at Thomas & Galbraith Heating, Cooling & Plumbing team will explain what an AC circuit breaker is and why the breaker trips. We’ll also share how to troubleshoot certain issues that may be tripping the breaker and when to call an HVAC professional to fix AC units.
What Is the Air Conditioner’s Circuit Breaker?
A circuit breaker is an electrical switch that automatically turns off when the current flowing through it becomes too strong. This prevents damage to the circuit by preventing it from overheating. Circuit breakers can be found in homes, businesses, and industrial facilities.
They are typically located in the main electrical panel, which is typically located in the basement or garage. Circuit breakers come in a variety of sizes and amperages, and they can be either single-pole or double-pole. Single-pole circuit breakers are typically used for small appliances such as toasters and hair dryers, while double-pole circuit breakers are typically used for larger appliances such as ovens and air conditioners.
When choosing a circuit breaker, it is important to select one that is rated for the amperage of the circuit it will be protecting. For example, a 20-amp circuit should be protected by a 20-amp breaker.
Circuit breakers can trip for a variety of reasons, including overloads, shorts, and ground faults. If a circuit breaker trips frequently, it may be an indication that the circuit is overloaded and needs to be replaced with a larger one. Short circuits occur when there is an accidental connection between the hot wire and the neutral wire.
Ground faults occur when there is an accidental connection between the hot wire and the ground wire. Both of these conditions can cause overheating and damage to the circuit breaker, so it is important to have them repaired as soon as possible.
Why Your Air Conditioner Circuit Breaker May Trip
A circuit breaker is designed to trip and cut off the power when it senses an overload on the circuit. This is a safety feature that protects the wiring from overheating and starting a fire.
However, if the circuit breaker is faulty, it may trip even when there is no overload. This can be frustrating, especially if it happens on a hot day when you are trying to use your air conditioner. Here are some of the common reasons your air conditioner may be tripping the circuit breaker.
Dirty Filter in the AC System
A common cause of the air conditioner circuit breaker tripping is dirty air filters. The air filter helps to remove dirt, dust and other airborne particles from the air as it circulates through the system. Over time, the filter can become clogged with debris, making it harder for air to flow freely. As a result, the air conditioner has to work harder to cool the home, causing a rise in electricity usage. This increase in electricity usage can cause the circuit breaker to trip, disrupting the flow of power to the system.
If your air conditioner’s circuit breaker is tripping, the first thing you should check is the filter and install a new AC filter if needed. To do this, simply locate the filter (it’s usually behind a grate on the front of the unit), remove it, and put in a new one. Once you’ve done this, turn the AC back on and see if the problem has been resolved. If the circuit breaker still trips, you may have a bigger issue that will require a professional to take a look at.
To avoid this problem, it is important to regularly clean or replace the air filter. By doing so, you can help keep your air conditioner running smoothly and prevent unnecessary circuit breakages.
Dirty Condenser Coils Tripping the Circuit Breaker
One of the most common reasons for an air conditioner circuit breaker to trip is dirty condenser coils. As the coils become clogged with dirt and dust, they become less effective at transferring heat. This causes the coils to overheat, which eventually trips the breaker. In addition, dirt and debris can also block airflow through the coils, causing the compressor to overheat.
If you notice that your air conditioner’s circuit breaker is tripping more frequently, it’s a good idea to have the coils cleaned by a professional. The condenser coils are often cleaned as part of a professional maintenance tune up for your air conditioning unit, so make sure to schedule these each year to prevent circuit breaker problems caused by the condensing coil in the outside AC unit. With regular maintenance, you can help keep your air conditioner running efficiently and avoid costly repairs down the road.
Fan Problems in the Outdoor Unit
A broken coil fan in the outdoor unit can cause the air conditioner circuit breaker to trip for a few reasons. First, the fan is responsible for circulating air over the coils. Without the fan, the coils can’t do their job properly and the air conditioner will overheat. Second, a broken fan can cause the coils to freeze up, which will also cause the air conditioner to overheat. Finally, a broken fan can cause the compressor to overheat, which is another reason why the air conditioner will trip the circuit breaker.
Sometimes, the fan blades may be causing the issue. Check the blades to make sure they are not damaged or obstructed. If there is debris blocking the condenser fan, turn off the power source to the air conditioner first then carefully remove the material.
If the fan blades are damaged or the problem seems to be due to the fan motor or other component, it’s time to call an AC tech for repairs. A broken coil fan in the outdoor unit is a serious problem that can cause the air conditioner to trip the circuit breaker. If you suspect that your fan is broken, it’s important to call a qualified technician for help.
Air Conditioner Tripping Due to Compressor Failure
Another one of the of the most common reasons why an air conditioner trips the circuit is because of a faulty compressor. The compressor is responsible for circulating refrigerant throughout the AC unit, and if it isn’t working properly, it can cause the unit to overheat. In some cases, the compressor may even start to leak refrigerant, which can be dangerous. If you notice that your air conditioner is tripping the circuit more frequently, or if it’s starting to make strange noises, it’s important to have a professional take a look at it. Otherwise, you could end up damaging your AC unit beyond repair.
If you have an old AC unit, it may not be able to handle the increased load and will trip the circuit. In older models, the contactor closes with a spring-loaded plunger. The dust and dirt can cause the contact points to become corroded over time, which makes it harder for the contactor to close. This can cause arcing and eventually burning out the contactor. A failed or damaged capacitor will need to be replaced in order to get your air conditioner unit working properly again. Replacing a worn out or damaged contactor is an inexpensive repair that can prolong the life of your air conditioner unit.
It may be necessary to install a hard start kit for your air conditioning compressor. A hard start kit helps to amperage the low voltage so the compressor can start with less strain. The capacitor provides a boost of energy so that the compressor can overcome any resistance and get started.
Bad Circuit Breaker or Loose Wiring to the Air Conditioning System
One of the most common reasons an air conditioner trips is because of a bad breaker. The breaker is what controls the flow of electricity to the air conditioner, and if it is not working properly, it can cause the air conditioner to trip. A bad breaker can be caused by a variety of things, including a loose wire or a problem with the breaker itself.
If you think your air conditioner has tripped because of a bad breaker, the first thing you should do is check the breaker to see if it is loose or damaged. If the breaker is loose, you will need to tighten it. If the breaker is damaged, you will need to replace it. You can usually find replacement breakers at your local hardware store.
If the wires are not properly connected, they can overheat and cause the circuit to trip. In some cases, the wires may also short-circuit, causing an electrical fire. If you suspect that your air conditioner’s wiring is to blame for its circuit problems, it’s important to have a professional electrician take a look at it as soon as possible. Otherwise, you could be putting your home at risk of serious damage.
Solve AC Circuit Breaker Problems Today
If your air conditioner keeps tripping the circuit breaker and AC system troubleshooting doesn’t keep the AC circuit breaker from continuing to trip, it’s time to call in the professionals. The experts at Thomas & Galbraith Heating, Cooling & Plumbing can help you determine what is causing your AC breaker issue and make the necessary repairs so that your AC unit is running smoothly again. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for AC repair!