Why is My AC Constantly Tripping the Circuit Breaker?
As you probably know, air conditioners are power-hungry appliances, and this is especially true here in Riverside, where we see average summer temperatures in the mid-90s. For this reason, your home’s air conditioner has a dedicated power circuit. A dedicated power circuit ensures your system gets the electricity it needs and does not have to compete with other devices or appliances you may plug in at any given time. In most cases, this arrangement works as intended. When the circuit breaker for your AC system starts tripping repeatedly, don’t wait to figure out the problem. Here are six reasons why your AC’s circuit breaker might trip over and over again.
1. YOU HAVE A DIRTY AIR FILTER
One of the most common reasons your AC might start tripping its breaker is if you neglect the air filter. If you are guilty of this, dust and dirt will build up in the filter and restrict airflow through your AC system. To compensate, the ac blower motor in your AC’s indoor unit will work harder to overcome the airflow restriction. As it does this, it will begin drawing more electricity as it tries in vain to beat the back pressure. Before you know it, the extra power draw may cause your AC circuit breaker to trip.
The good news is that all you have to do to solve this problem is replace your AC air filter. In most systems, you should replace your AC air filter approximately every three months. You may need to change your filter more often if anyone in your home has respiratory or allergy issues. Remember that the longer you keep letting the blower motor in your AC work overtime, the greater the odds it will burn out. So, heed the warning the circuit breaker is giving you and check your AC air filter immediately!
2. YOUR OUTDOOR UNIT IS OBSTRUCTED
Another reason that your AC could start tripping its breaker is if the outdoor unit gets obstructed. Much like the blower fan inside your home, the one in your outdoor unit requires unimpeded airflow to function. If any debris or clutter exists around your outdoor AC unit, it could cause excessive power use and lead to a tripped breaker. Experts recommend that you maintain at least one foot of empty air space on all sides of your outdoor AC unit, with three or more feet being ideal.
In addition, you will want to keep dirt from building up inside the condenser fins of your outdoor unit. Dirt is an insulator that can prevent your AC from expelling unwanted heat outside. If your condenser fins are visibly dirty, you should schedule an appointment with All Pro Air to have them cleaned and potentially solve your circuit breaker issues.
3. THE AC CIRCUIT BREAKER IS FAULTY
When a circuit breaker begins tripping repeatedly, it may not have anything to do with the devices the circuit powers. Although it is uncommon, circuit breakers can become unreliable and fail. The circuit breaker could also have loose electrical connections that require professional attention. If a professional inspection shows your AC isn’t the cause of your problem, you will want a qualified electrician to check the circuit breaker next. It may need some simple adjustments or a complete replacement. Either way, your AC should return to normal operation afterward.
4. YOU HAVE AN ELECTRICAL SHORT
Although you may not realize it, electrical wires heat up and expand as voltage passes through them. As a result, if your AC begins drawing more power than normal for too long, it might damage your electrical wires and lead to a short circuit. A short circuit means that a power wire is allowing voltage to escape and make contact with surrounding metal or the ground. When this happens, it causes an immediate voltage spike. Fortunately, this is exactly what a circuit breaker protects against. To avoid damage to your home’s wiring, the breaker cuts off electricity whenever an appliance draws a higher voltage than the circuit’s wiring can safely handle.
This issue is best left in the hands of a professional HVAC technician. They will know which parts of your AC to inspect to identify the short circuit. They will also know how to replace any damaged wiring causing the problem. If you suspect a short circuit, leave your AC breaker in the off position and call for help immediately.
5. A HARD-STARTING COMPRESSOR
Whenever your AC turns on, it activates a compressor inside your outdoor unit. This compressor is the single largest power drain inside your AC. Over the years, your compressor may deteriorate in a way that makes it consume an increasing amount of voltage at startup. It’s a condition called hard starting, and it can lead to a tripped circuit breaker every time your AC tries to turn on.
In some cases, a qualified HVAC technician can solve your problem by installing an extra capacitor to add a bit of torque to your compressor upon startup. Doing this will help extend the life of your AC compressor and prevent the sudden power drain that is tripping your breaker. However, this condition may also indicate that your AC is nearing the end of its useful life. Always discuss your options with an HVAC expert, like a team member here at All Pro Air, to find the right solution for your situation.
6. A GROUNDED COMPRESSOR
The last—and most serious—problem that might lead to a tripping AC circuit breaker is a grounded compressor. A grounded compressor is a type of short circuit that can happen to the wiring inside your AC compressor. When that wiring breaks down, it can contact the compressor’s metal body and cause a short circuit. Unfortunately, there is no way to repair the wiring inside a compressor, and replacing your compressor alone would be rather costly.
If your tripping circuit breaker is the result of a grounded compressor, your best option is to replace the entire outdoor unit or purchase an all-new AC system. Although it sounds like a daunting investment, doing so wouldn’t be much more expensive than replacing the compressor and will guarantee many years of reliable service. If your existing AC compressor fails, there is a good chance that other parts of your AC system aren’t far behind it.
YOUR TRUSTED AC SPECIALISTS
No matter why your AC circuit breaker keeps tripping, All Pro Air can help. Since 2010, we have offered expert HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair services in Riverside and the surrounding areas. Our NATE-certified HVAC technicians can help you identify the cause of your AC issues and recommend the best possible solution. We also specialize in ductless systems, heat pumps, and indoor air quality services. In addition, we offer financing on approved credit if you need financial flexibility to afford a new AC system. Don’t take chances if your AC circuit breaker starts tripping, and call the experts at All Pro Air for help today!