Common A/C Issues: Why Does the Circuit Breaker Trip?

air conditioner unit

When an A/C trips the circuit breaker, cool indoor temperatures come to an abrupt halt. No power means no A/C. If you check the main circuit breaker panel and discover a tripped breaker switch, resetting it is as simple as pushing it toward the “off” position for a moment, then flipping it back on again. This may or may not restore proper air conditioner function, but experience shows that when an A/C trips the circuit breaker once, it will frequently do so again very quickly. Here are some reasons why this may be happening.

Component Wear And Tear

As a worn component such as a blower motor or compressor reaches the end of its service life, it frequently begins pulling too many amps of electricity. This excess draw causes the breaker to trip to prevent overload. A qualified HVAC technician will be able to trace this problem to its source and recommend repair or replacement of the failing part.

Secondary Issues

A major component overstressed by faults elsewhere in the system can also trip a circuit breaker. Common examples are a blower motor straining against a clogged air filter and drawing excess amps, or a compressor overheating due to a low refrigerant level. Identifying and correcting the secondary cause may resolve the circuit breaker issue, as well as prevent permanent damage to these expensive major components.

Bad Capacitor

A central A/C incorporates a replaceable capacitor that provides a high-voltage electrical boost to start the compressor. A weak or defective capacitor could trigger a tripped breaker if the compressor doesn’t receive adequate starting power. A failing start capacitor is a component that can be easily diagnosed and replaced by contacting your local HVAC contractor.

For more information on what to do when an A/C trips the circuit, check out Custom Mechanical’s air conditioner service solutions or call 877-696-0808.

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