A central air conditioner or heat pump that regularly trips the circuit breaker can be a serious issue. Not only will it mean that your AC keeps shutting off and your home becomes too hot, but it can also cause serious damage to the unit or your home’s electrical system. When a circuit breaker trips, it’s because the circuit gets overloaded and has more power flowing through it than what it is designed to handle. A circuit that regularly gets overloaded and causes the breaker to trip is not something you should ignore as it can also lead to a serious risk of fire. Various issues can cause an AC to trip the circuit breaker, but first, let’s look at what steps you should take when this happens.

Make Sure the AC Air Filter Doesn’t Need Replacement

Anytime your AC trips the circuit breaker, the first thing you should do before resetting the breaker is check the condition of the air filter and make sure it doesn’t need to be replaced. One of the most common reasons that an AC will trip the circuit breaker is because the air filter is so dirty and clogged that the blower struggles to pull air in through it. When this happens, the blower motor can, sometimes, start to draw more power and potentially lead to the circuit overloading and the breaker tripping. The best way to avoid this problem is to check the air filter regularly. In general, you should replace your AC filter every two or three months whenever your AC runs often. If you have an older home with lots of dust or have multiple pets in the home, you may want to replace the filter monthly, due to the potential for excess dust and debris buildup.

Reset the Circuit Breaker and Your AC Unit

A power outage is the most common reason that an AC will trip the circuit breaker. Once the power comes back on, the sudden spike in voltage caused by the AC unit turning back on can overload the circuit and cause the breaker to trip. If the circuit breaker does trip after a power outage or at any other time, you’ll need to reset both the circuit breaker and your AC unit. The first step is to turn your air conditioning off by switching the thermostat from “Cool” to “Off.” This ensures the system won’t turn back on immediately after resetting the circuit breaker. If you don’t reset your AC first, the breaker will likely trip again. Most AC units have an internal circuit breaker that will also need to be reset for the unit to run again properly, and the process for resetting an AC can vary depending on the specific model. Some units have a red reset button on the unit itself. In this case, all you need to do is hold the button in for around 5 seconds so that the unit resets. If the unit doesn’t have a reset button, you will need to wait for around 30 minutes before turning it back on so that the unit has time to reset. After turning the system off at the thermostat, reset the circuit breaker before resetting the AC. Many AC systems are controlled by a circuit breaker in the electrical panel and another circuit breaker on the wall outside near the unit. In this case, you will need to reset both of the breakers before resetting the AC. Once you’ve reset the AC or waited 30 minutes for it to reset, you can then turn the system back on at the thermostat to see if it now runs properly. If the breaker trips again, you shouldn’t reset it a second time. It could mean there’s a problem with your electrical system.

Other Reasons Your AC Trips the Circuit Breaker

A breaker that continually trips can also be a sign of any of the following problems, all of which could cause further damage to the AC unit or create a fire hazard.

Electrical Connection or Wiring Issues

Any type of electrical issues, such as a loose connection or damaged wire, can easily lead to a short circuit that causes the breaker to trip, and this is one of the many things a technician will check for. The problem could be related to the internal wiring in the AC unit or blower or in one of the wires between the control board and the thermostat or the outdoor unit.

Faulty Start Capacitor

A faulty start capacitor can also lead to your AC tripping the circuit breaker every time it attempts to start. AC units require much more power to start than they do to run, and the start capacitor provides the additional power needed to start without overloading the circuit. If the start capacitor fails, the compressor and fan motor will then draw too much power when starting and trip the breaker. A failed start capacitor is usually a fairly easy problem to spot as it will often make a repeated clicking noise when it tries and fails to release its stored charge.

Dirty Compressor Coil or Blower Housing

A dirty compressor coil in the outdoor AC unit or too much dirt coating the blower housing can also cause the unit to trip the circuit breaker. If the compressor coil is too dirty, the unit will struggle to disperse the heat it removed from inside your home. This can lead to the compressor having to work harder and potentially drawing so much power that the circuit gets overloaded. An overly dirty blower can also result in it drawing too much power, similar to what can happen when the air filter is clogged. Both of these problems are easy to overcome as all you need is for a technician to clean all of the components fully.

Compressor Fan Issues

Similar issues can also occur if the fan in the compressor unit is failing or not working properly. A failing fan motor can easily draw too much power. If the fan isn’t working properly, the unit won’t be able to disperse heat properly just as if the compressor coil is dirty. Again, this can cause the compressor to work harder and draw excess power.

AC Unit Is Old and Failing

There is also a chance that your circuit breaker keeps tripping simply because of the unit’s age and wear. The older the unit gets, the more its performance can start to suffer. This can lead to it working harder and drawing so much power at times that the breaker trips. This often won’t be an issue on milder days when the system doesn’t have to work as hard but can lead to the breaker frequently tripping on much hotter days or any time the unit has to run for a long time. At Eck Services, our team can help you overcome an AC that keeps tripping the circuit breaker or any other problems. We can repair your air conditioner! We service all models and brands of air conditioners, and we also offer a full range of electrical and plumbing services for customers in the Wichita area. Contact us today, and we’ll ensure your needs are taken care of promptly and professionally.