What Might Be Causing Your AC To Trip The Breaker
Does this scenario sound familiar? It’s a hot summer evening and your house is blessedly cool, until suddenly the AC cuts out and won’t come back on. You eventually check your breaker box and find that the HVAC circuit breaker is tripped. Puzzled, you reset the breaker and move on with your evening. But then it happens again!
If your AC has repeatedly tripped the circuit breaker, don’t reset the breaker again. The air conditioner is overloading the circuit and it’s tripping to prevent an electrical fire from occurring. Turn the air conditioner off at the thermostat and do some troubleshooting.
Hyde’s can help you determine if the problem is with your air conditioner or with your electrical system, and offers solutions to fix it so you can turn your AC back on.
Is It An Air Conditioner Problem?
The most likely reason your AC tripped the breaker is that it overheated. When your air conditioner is overheated, it will still run but it will pull more amps and if it pulls too many amps, the circuit will overload and trip the breaker. Overheating can be caused by something as simple as a clogged air filter to something as serious as a grounded compressor.
Check your air filter to see if it’s dirty. If it is, changing it for a clean filter may be all you need to do to resolve the problem. If changing your air filter doesn’t solve the problem, have an HVAC technician come to your home to check for one of these problems:
- Dirty Coils – If your air conditioner’s condenser coils are dirty from dirt and debris, they aren’t able to function properly. They start working harder without any improved results, which leads to the condenser overheating.
- Condenser Fan Malfunction – Much like your condenser coils, your condenser fan needs to be clean to work at peak efficiency. When the fan is dirty, it creates friction that leads to overheating and that tripped circuit breaker. You can guarantee your AC’s cleanliness and efficient function with regular maintenance.
- Low Refrigerant – Refrigerant is the key ingredient to creating cool air in your home. When your air conditioner has insufficient refrigerant, it has to work that much harder to put out the same amount of cool air, causing the unit to overheat.
- Bad Capacitor – The capacitor is what starts your AC’s cooling cycle, and as your AC unit ages the capacitor can go bad over time. This will cause the unit to have a hard time starting up, pulling more amps and tripping the breaker. If that is the case, you’ll need to have the capacitor repaired.
- Grounded Compressor – If one of the electrical windings inside the compressor breaks and hits the side of the unit, it will cause a ground short. This ground short will ignite the lubricant oil in the compressor, causing a burnout of the system. This is the worst and most expensive cause of your circuit breaker tripping, as the whole compressor will have to replaced and the refrigerant lines cleaned out.
Is It An Electrical Problem?
Your AC tripping the circuit breaker may have nothing to do with the air conditioner itself. It could be a problem with your electrical wiring. A qualified electrician can tell you whether the problem is caused by loose wiring or a bad breaker.
- A Loose Connection – Electrical wires can expand and contract with the weather, which can, over time, lead to a loosening of your home’s electrical connections. If any of the connections between your air conditioner unit and your electrical panel have become loose or disconnected, your electrician will need to reconnect/tighten the connections.
- A Bad Breaker – Much like any other mechanical component, your circuit breakers can go bad from regular wear and tear. If the circuit breaker than serves your AC is hot to the touch, producing a burning smell or presenting you with scorch marks, the breaker needs to be replaced.