Why Does My AC Circuit Breaker Keep Tripping?
Does your air conditioner keep suddenly turning off? This is likely due to the AC unit tripping the circuit breaker. To fix the issue, you will need to find out why your AC circuit breaker keeps tripping.
Here are some culprits that could cause your AC to trip the circuit breaker:
In this article, we’ll go over each of these problems, as well as the steps you should take to resolve them.
Culprit #1: There’s dirt or debris in your system
Excessive dirt or debris anywhere in your air conditioning system could be causing the circuit breaker to trip.
Why? Because dirt can clog your system and force it to work harder to properly cool your home. This extra strain from your AC system requires more power, leading to a tripped circuit breaker.
There are two key areas where dirt and debris could accumulate and cause your circuit breaker to trip:
- Air filter
- Condenser (your AC’s outdoor unit)
You’ll need to replace your air filter and/or clean your condenser. Both can be completed by scheduling an AC tune-up.
Culprit #2: You have problems with your breaker
Your AC circuit breaker might keep tripping because the circuit breaker itself is damaged.
To determine if your AC circuit breaker is damaged, check your home’s electrical circuit breaker panel to look for the following signs:
- Your AC breaker is hot when you touch it
- There is a burning odor coming from the breaker
- There are loose connecting wires
- The breaker is burnt
If you notice any of the above signs, you’re dealing with a damaged breaker that needs to be professionally replaced.
Culprit #3: Your refrigerant levels are low
Refrigerant is a cold, chemical substance that chills the warm inside air entering your AC system. Because it works in a closed-loop system and doesn’t ever need to be refilled, your refrigerant levels will only decrease if there is a leak.
If your refrigerant levels drop too low, your AC unit might go into overdrive in order to meet your cooling needs. And, again—the harder your AC works, the more power it needs and the more likely your circuit breaker will trip.
Not sure how to detect a refrigerant leak? Here are a few red flags that you might have a leak:
- Frozen evaporator coils
- Buzzing or hissing noise
- Higher monthly energy bills
If you notice any of the above signs, contact an AC technician. Refrigerant is a hazardous substance that should only be handled by a qualified professional.
Culprit #4: The outdoor fan motor is burnt out
Your outdoor unit’s fan (known as a condenser fan) could be the reason your AC circuit breaker is tripping. Over time, the condenser fan goes through some normal wear-and-tear, which can eventually cause the motor to burn out.
If you have a worn fan motor, your unit might experience an electrical short circuit, causing the electricity to be diverted from its intended path. When electricity is flowing freely through the wires, your AC breaker will trip as it tries to prevent damage to the unit.
So, how do you know if your fan motor is burnt out? Check the AC fan outdoors to see if it’s making its normal low rumbling noises. You’ll know it’s burnt out if you don’t hear it running.
What to do if your AC circuit breaker tripped
If your AC circuit breaker is tripping, take the following two steps to get your air conditioner on its way to repair:
- Reset your system
- Contact a professional
1. Reset your system
When an AC circuit breaker trips, it’s not always due to an underlying issue that requires attention. The first time your system trips, you can try resetting it. To do so, flip the breaker off, flip it on, and wait 30 seconds.
If your AC unit trips after resetting your system once, don’t reset it again. Instead, contact a professional because you likely have one of the above culprits to blame.
2. Contact a professional
If you’re dealing with low refrigerant levels, a broken fan motor, or a dirty condenser, contact a professional HVAC technician. And if you’re dealing with breaker issues, you’ll need to contact an electrician.
Contact Climate Design for all of your AC needs.
If you need a professional to fix the issue with your AC circuit breaker, look no further than Climate Design. With almost 50 years of experience, we can repair any AC system model or make.
When you choose us to handle your AC repair, you won’t have to wait long for the job to be completed. In general, we complete 90% of our AC repair jobs on the first service call.