7 Reasons why your AC keeps tripping the circuit breaker! – American Weathermakers, Inc.

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7 Reasons why your AC keeps tripping the circuit breaker!


If your air conditioner is always tripping the circuit breaker, but you don’t know why, we can help!

Simply put, an air conditioner usually trips the breaker because it’s using more amps than the breaker is rated for. This may be annoying but it’s actually in place to protect you from overcurrents that can damage equipment and cause fires. That’s why it’s also important that you don’t keep resetting the breaker and allowing it to keep tripping.

Below are common causes of an air conditioner tripping the breaker!

1) Blocked air filter

If your AC filter is blocked, the blower has to to work longer and harder to circulate air through the filter which causes more energy usage, which in turn causes the blower to draw more electricity and trip the breaker.

What to do: Change the air filter and maintain it regularly.

2) Dirty outside unit

Your air cooling system has an inside unit and an outside unit – the inside unit absorbs heat from your air using refrigerant which flows to the outside unit to disperse the heat.

However, the outside unit can’t disperse heat good enough if it’s clogged with debris since dirt is an insulator. So the AC unit stays running to try to disperse that heat outside until the breaker trips.

What to do: Have your condenser unit professionally cleaned – an HVAC tech will have the right equipment and know how to do  it without damaging the unit.

3) Problems with the circuit breaker

The problem may not be with the air cooling system itself but rather with the breaker.

Wires connected to the breaker may be loose or the breaker itself may be bad and needs replacing. This is a relatively inexpensive fix.

Solution: Have a tech tighten connections to the AC’s breaker or replace the breaker.

4) Motor has shorted

Electric motors in your air cooling system can run for a while and take a lot of wear but if a motor runs hot for too long, the wire insulation can break down causing it to “short.”

A “short” is where electricity bypasses its normal path to let more electricity through than the wires can handle, causing the wires to overheat, melt which can lead to a fire.

What to do: Call American Weathermakers to find the source of the short.

5) Compressor has problems starting

The main component of your AC system is the compressor which uses a lot of electricity when it starts. As the compressor ages, it has trouble starting, or sometimes called a hard start, and pulls even more power, causing the breaker to trip as a result.

What to do: Have one of our technician install a “hard start kit” which is a capacitor that gives the compressor motor an extra electrical jolt so to speak to get it moving. If the compressor is too old, it may need to simply be replaced.

6) Compressor is grounded

A “grounded compressor” or “compressor short to ground” means that an electrical winding inside the compressor has malfunctioned and hit the side of the compressor. This causes a direct short to ground, igniting the oil and causing a burnout, which causes a circuit breaker trip.

What to do: This is a worst case scenario for homeowners. An HVAC tech will need to replace the compressor and clean the refrigerant lines. If your compressor is out of warranty or your warranty never covered it, your technician will let you know your options since it may be easier and less expensive to replace the compressor unit.

7) Defective breaker or undersized breaker.  If this happens, our technicians will determine if the breaker is defective and replace the breaker if necessary.

Whether you’re in Glenview, Arlington Heights or Lake Forest, our air cooling professionals know how to fix and maintain all kinds of HVAC systems, from American Standard to Lennox to Rheem. Call us at 847.509.2024 today if circuit problems are plaguing your home’s system.