Why is my Air Conditioner Tripping the Circuit Breaker?

Why is my Air Conditioner Tripping the Circuit Breaker?

Circuit breakers are designed to protect an electrical system, appliances, and an entire building from power overloads. Circuits can only handle so much current. An overload is when there is suddenly too much current flowing through the circuit. For instance, if you have too many items plugged into the outlets in one circuit, they may draw more power than the circuit can safely supply. This leads to an overload that instantly trips the breaker.

The same thing can happen if your AC system suddenly draws more power for some reason or if there is a power surge when your AC is running. This is important for safety reasons. The higher current flowing through the circuit’s wiring can cause the wires to become extremely hot and potentially catch fire. Too much current flowing through the circuit can also seriously damage the AC condenser, blower, and interior components. With all that in mind, here is a quick overview of what to do if your AC causes the breaker to trip and the different issues that can cause this to happen.

Resetting Your AC After It Trips the Breaker

Whenever your AC overloads the circuit and trips the breaker, it’s a good idea to wait for around 30 minutes after resetting the breaker before you try to turn the system back on. Some AC systems will need some time for the internal circuitry to reset before they will turn on again. This is not the case with all systems, so it’s a good idea to refer to your AC manual or consult with a professional before proceeding.

After flipping the breaker back on, you can then try to turn your AC on again to see if it runs. If the system turns on and the breaker doesn’t trip again, you likely don’t have anything to worry about and can use your AC normally.

If the system trips the breaker again, you should never try to reset it a second time. Trying to reset the breaker repeatedly risks damaging your AC system and could also lead to a fire. For these reasons, it is essential that you leave your AC turned off and call for professional help.

Steps to Take While Waiting

When you’re waiting for your AC to reset after flipping the breaker back on, it’s a good idea to check the air filter and all of the vents in your home. If the filter is visibly dirty, you’ll want to replace it with a new one before trying to turn your AC on again. You should also make sure that every supply and return air vent in your home is open. It’s also important that there is no furniture, clothing, or other items blocking any of the vents.

It’s imperative that your HVAC system has sufficient airflow. Closed vents or a clogged filter will seriously restrict the airflow in the system. This makes it more difficult for the blower to pull warm air in and circulate the cool air around the building, which can result in the blower working harder and overloading.

Other AC Issues That Can Cause the Circuit Breaker to Trip

If all vents are open and the air filter is still in good condition, you’ll want an AC technician to inspect the system. A worn-out or malfunctioning compressor motor, compressor fan motor, or blower motor can struggle to work properly and will draw enough extra power for the breaker to trip. Another possibility is that the system has a damaged wire or loose electrical connection, which can cause a short circuit that trips the breaker.

The breaker can also trip if the condenser coil is coated in lots of dirt and dust, which prevents the system from releasing heat properly. This can cause the condenser to overheat and draw too much power. The breaker can also trip due to a frozen evaporator coil or because there isn’t enough refrigerant in the system.

Expert AC Repairs and Inspections

Honey's Air, Inc. is the number one source for AC inspections and repairs in Modesto. Our NATE-certified AC technicians service all makes and models of central air conditioners as well as heat pumps and ductless mini-split systems. We also offer professional AC maintenance, which can help you avoid issues that could cause your system to trip the circuit breaker. Contact us today to schedule an AC inspection, indoor air quality assessment, whole-house fan installation, and more.

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