Breaker Keeps Tripping on AC

If you keep having problems with circuit breakers tripping when you turn on or are running your air conditioner, you should find the source of the problem and fix it rather than risk further damage to your system by continually resetting the breakers. If you can’t figure out why the A/C is tripping the circuit breaker in your home, contact your trusted Shreveport HVAC contractor for professional troubleshooting and repairs.

Why the Breaker Keeps Tripping When AC Turns On

The breaker may keep tripping when the AC turns on due to an electrical overload. Air conditioners typically draw a significant amount of power when starting up, and this sudden surge in electricity can exceed the capacity of the circuit breaker. When the breaker detects an excessive flow of current, it automatically trips to prevent damage to the electrical system and potential fire hazards.

Here are several possible reasons why the A/C is tripping the circuit breaker.

Faulty Circuit Breaker or Wiring

The circuit breaker itself may be the problem. Breakers can deteriorate over time due to temperature changes and routine wear. If the electrical contacts or wiring are getting loose, the breaker may trip even before you try to turn your air conditioner back on.

The breaker may also trip when the AC turns on if there’s a short circuit or a ground fault. This causes the breaker to immediately trip as an added safety feature.

Additionally, in some cases, faulty or overloaded wiring can cause the breaker to trip when the AC comes on. The wires may become overloaded, generating excessive heat and causing the circuit breaker to trip to prevent potential hazards.

In any case, a tripping circuit breaker indicates a safety issue that should not be ignored. If you suspect a problem with your circuit breaker or wiring, it is crucial to have a qualified electrician inspect and repair the system to ensure the safety and reliability of your electrical infrastructure.

Dirty Air Filter

A severely clogged air filter can make the air handler work harder than it’s designed for to try to move sufficient air through the ductwork. If the air handler draws too much current, the circuit breaker will trip.

Here’s how it happens:

  1. Restricted Airflow: A dirty air filter becomes clogged with dust, dirt, and debris, restricting the airflow into the HVAC system. With limited airflow, the unit has to work harder to circulate air, putting additional stress on the blower motor and other components.
  2. Increased Energy Consumption: When the AC unit operates under restricted airflow, it consumes more energy to maintain the desired temperature. This extra demand can lead to a surge in electrical current.
  3. Overheating: The increased workload on the blower motor and other parts due to restricted airflow can cause them to overheat.
  4. Tripped Circuit Breaker: The excessive electrical load caused by the dirty air filter can lead to the circuit breaker tripping to interrupt the current flow and protect the electrical system.

To prevent this issue, we recommend regularly cleaning and replacing the air filter as recommended by the manufacturer.

Dirty Condenser Coil

If the condenser coil gets clogged with dust, leaves, or other debris, or if the fan inside the outdoor unit is blocked from effectively moving air across the coil, your system can overload and trip the circuit breaker.

A dirty condenser coil can trip a circuit breaker when the AC comes on due to increased strain on the compressor, leading to a surge in electrical current. Here’s how it happens:

A dirty condenser coil starts being coated with dirt, dust, and debris, which restricts the flow of air across the coil. The coil cannot efficiently release heat from the refrigerant, causing the compressor to work harder to maintain the desired cooling capacity.

When the condenser coil is dirty and airflow is restricted, the compressor has to operate under higher pressure and temperature conditions, significantly increasing its workload.

The heightened workload and pressure on the compressor due to the dirty condenser coil can cause it to overheat. Overheating electrical components can trip the circuit breaker as a safety measure to prevent damage or fire hazards.

Insufficient Refrigerant Charge

If the AC refrigerant charge is low, your air conditioner will work beyond its normal limits to try to keep the thermostat happy. This can be the reason the A/C is tripping the circuit breaker, and it also indicates that your system has a refrigerant leak that needs attention.

When the AC system has an insufficient refrigerant charge, it cannot absorb and release heat efficiently. As a result, the cooling capacity is reduced, and the AC unit struggles to maintain the desired temperature in the space it’s cooling.

The extended operation of the compressor under a low refrigerant charge leads to an increased demand for electrical power. The higher electrical load can cause a surge in electrical current, potentially exceeding the circuit breaker’s capacity.

Other AC Malfunctions

Problems with fans, motors, capacitors, and other mechanical and electronic parts in the Shreveport A/C system can lead to high current demands and tripped circuit breakers.

If your home is hot and uncomfortable because the A/C is tripping the circuit breaker, call Pioneer Comfort Systems at 318-795-8000 for quick, courteous Shreveport A/C service.