On a hot summer day, the last thing you could want is your air conditioner to shut off because the AC circuit breaker is tripping. What’s going on with the AC, and is there an easy solution, or should you call someone to fix the problem? If your AC trips the breaker, it may be time to contact a professional. There are different reasons for this, and each requires a different solution. Sometimes AC units will cause trips because they are not getting a proper electrical current from the circuit breaker. This type of electrical trip means something is wrong with the wiring in your house.  With a professional’s help, you can diagnose and alleviate the issue and keep your home cool, safe and happy this Summer! If you’ve decided that your AC is tripping the breaker, but you have no idea why it can feel hopeless. An AC unit will trip the breaker if it’s consuming more amps than the breaker can handle. For example, the breaker will trip if you have only have a 20-amp breaker, but the AC pulls 30 amps. Breakers trip: to protect you from dangerous currents that can damage equipment and cause elecrtical fires. If you believe your AC is tripping your breaker, it can be dangerous to reset the breaker over and over. . Constant tripping can damage components and cause an electrical fire. Diagnose the cause of the problem or call a technician first. A few common causes of an air conditioner tripping the breaker are:

  • Dirty air filters
  • Dirty outside unit
  • Issues with the circuit breaker
  • Motor has shorted
  • The compressor won’t start up
  • Compressor is grounded

Most of these problems require an HVAC repair technician because dealing with electrical components can be dangerous. Schedule AC repair with us immediately if you live in Dundalk and suspect any kind of electrical issue.  If your AC circuit breaker keeps tripping, do not ignore it or repeatedly keep resetting the breaker. Take action ASAP to prevent costly and dangerous consequences. Read on to learn how your AC trips the breaker.

What Should I do First?

Sometimes nearby lightning strikes can cause a one-time power surge that causes trips, and the system will recover after restarting it.
Here are some steps to take when your AC circuit breaker trips:
  1. Turn the system OFF with the thermostat.
  2. Turn the AC circuit breaker switch ON at your electrical panel.
  3. Wait 30 minutes with the AC OFF so your air conditioner’s internal circuit breaker can reset. The breaker won’t reset if the thermostat is requesting a temperature change.
  4. After 30 minutes, turn your air conditioner back on; hopefully, everything will work again.

However, if the AC circuit breaker trips again or the AC won’t turn on, you could have a serious HVAC problem that needs to be addressed and repaired by a technician.  If your system works for a while but then shuts off and trips the breaker again, you can try one more thing: changing your air filter. When your system filter becomes clogged, the fan motor works harder and runs longer, Trying to pull air through the filter. It may draw in too much electricity and cause an AC circuit breaker to trip in an attempt to do so. 

Why is my AC tripping my circuit Breaker?

1. Dirty Air Filters

If your AC trips the breaker when it gets hot outside, it may have happened because of a dirty air filter. Dirty filters reduce airflow and cause AC units to overheat, leading to a breaker trip.  Dirty filters make it difficult for air conditioners to function efficiently, and this may be why your AC is not cooling your house like it once did. It would be best to change air filters every couple of months, depending on how often you use your air conditioning.  If you haven’t requested maintenance for a long time and have several problems, airflow will eventually completely diminish within your system. A lack of airflow can cause the evaporator coil to freeze, drawing excess power and tripping the AC circuit breaker. If your coils are frozen, turn the unit off and call in a professional.  If you keep the system running, your compressor may fail, which is a major problem.

2. Dirty Condenser Coils

Have you neglected your yearly AC preventative maintenance? If your AC isn’t performing as well as you’d like, you may need to schedule maintenance to clean dirty condenser coils. When your condenser coils become dirty, they cannot disperse heat from inside the house to the outside unit. Dirty coils can cause an electrical shortage and overheat the system.  A buildup of dirt, dust, vegetation and other contaminants in your outdoor unit causes dirty coils. Cleaning these coils will help you avoid future AC problems! Ensure that your AC technician performs regular tune-ups on your unit to prevent dirty condenser coils. An expert should do tune-ups annually to prevent cool air loss in your home during the hot summer months. An AC professional will know how often a coil needs to be cleaned and replaced. Some units won’t need cleaning until they are no longer working correctly, while others may need annual cleaning.  Your outside air conditioning unit has a coil that releases accumulated heat outside your building. Exposure to the elements creates a coating of grime and debris. When that happens, heat transfer is. This blockage impairs heat transfer and causes your system to work harder to cool your space. Your condenser unit can draw too much power and cause the AC circuit breaker to trip. Cleaning coils yearly as part of your regular AC maintenance can solve this problem.

3. Broken Coil Fan

 Coil fans blow over the coils to release heat from your inside unit and keep your home cool. If something is wrong with these motors that turn the coil fans, it could increase energy use and cause the coil fan to burn out sooner. Suppose your air conditioner fan motor is tripping the breaker because it’s not getting enough power from your circuit. You can blame a broken coil fan. Broken or missing parts of an air conditioning unit can cause this issue.  To fix this problem, you’ll need an HVAC expert who knows how to replace or repair the coils on your air conditioning unit. Unless somebody with proper HVAC training handles the issues, there could be severe consequences for property and personal safety.

4. Compressor Issue

A running AC unit should switch on in about one second, and anything longer than that could signal that you have an issue with your compressor. The compressor is considered the heart of your AC unit and may experience problems as it ages. Call a professional to find out if your compressor is hard-starting. The compressor uses tons of electricity when it first starts up. Unfortunately, the compressor ages; it has trouble starting (called hard starting) and pulls even more electricity, causing the breaker to trip. A “grounded compressor” is also possible, meaning an electrical winding inside the compressor is broken and has hit the side of the compressor. Grounding causes direct shortages, resulting in burnout. The circuit breaker will trip because of the sudden current surge caused by grounding. You may need to replace your entire compressor and clean the refrigerator lines to ensure no particulates exist to cause problems down the road. If the circuit breaker keeps tripping, have an HVAC expert check the flow of electricity between the fan and your circuit.  However, replace it if the compressor is old or damaged instead of paying for repairs. An AC tech must replace the compressor and clean the refrigerant lines.

5. Electrical Issue

A simple electrical issue could cause a power surge that trips the AC circuit breaker within the air conditioner. Loose connections, a failed capacitor, or a shortage in wiring could be culprits. These issues can be easily repaired by a professional. The issue may be with the breaker instead of the AC unit. Wires connected to the breaker may have loosened over time, or the breaker itself may need replacing.  Your A/C unit contains many wires that keep the system working. Over time, the wires loosen and lose connection. These loose connections can trip the circuit breaker. Broken wires are a relatively inexpensive fix. The best option is an HVAC technician who knows what they’re doing when dealing with electrical wiring. An AC professional will re-wire your circuitry and replace the metal plate containing all the wires. The technician can provide a new one, or you can purchase one separately for an affordable price!

Find Professional Home Services in Dundalk Now

Call Reliability Home Services to schedule an expert AC repair. If your AC breaker continues tripping and shutting off, there’s an underlying issue with the system; not only are you dealing with unbearable heat, but when Summer comes around again – that’s a lot more money dumped into utility bills.  Get professional AC repair service as soon as possible to identify and fix any issues before they become chronic.  You may be able to save yourself from suffering through another unbearable summer this year by taking care of your air conditioner ASAP. Schedule an AC repair with Reliability Heating and Air today.