Air Conditioning

Why is My Air Conditioner Tripping the Breaker?

Why is My Air Conditioner Tripping the Breaker?

Never ignore an air conditioner that’s tripping the breaker. Something, somewhere is wrong and it’s not an issue that’s likely to fix itself. A circuit breaker usually trips because of excessive current draw from a component on the circuit. Simply resetting the A/C circuit breaker, therefore, is treating the symptom instead of the cause. The result could be very expensive, permanent damage to the air conditioner.

Here are some possible reasons why an A/C is tripping the breaker:

  • Insufficient airflow. If system airflow is obstructed, the air conditioner may run virtually non-stop. In this scenario the compressor overheats and draws excessive amperage, eventually tripping the breaker. Check the system air filter and if it’s clogged with dirt, replace it. If the breaker trips again, leave it off and call your HVAC contractor.

  • Coil iced up. If the system refrigerant charge drops below specifications, condensation on the evaporator coil may freeze and form layers of ice inside the coil that eventually obstruct airflow and cause the breaker to trip. Low refrigerant charge is usually due to a leak that must be diagnosed and repaired by a qualified HVAC service technician.

  • Outdoor issues. If air vents in the outdoor half of a central air conditioner are obstructed by encroaching weeds, or the outdoor condenser coil is coated with dirt, grass clippings or other debris, proper heat dissipation may be affected. This could cause excessive current draw and trip the breaker. Professional coil cleaning and routine maintenance to keep air vents clear is the solution.

  • Weak start capacitor. The powerful motor in the compressor located in the outside unit requires a burst of electricity from a large capacitor to help start it every time the system cycles on. Over time, the start capacitor weakens and doesn’t provide adequate voltage to turn the motor. This causes the compressor to strain and draw excessive amperage, which trips the circuit breaker. A start capacitor is a component that can be replaced by an HVAC technician.

If your air conditioner’s tripping the breaker, get qualified service now and prevent costly damage. Contact the professionals at Air Assurance.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Tulsa and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about circuit breakers and other HVAC topics, call us at 918-217-8273.