3 Diagnostic Questions For An AC That Keeps Tripping Its Breaker


Your home's breakers have a surprisingly simple job: protect the wiring in your walls. Ground faults, short circuits, and overloads cause a breaker to trip because any of these conditions can threaten your wiring. Uncontrolled faults or overloads can cause wires to become excessively hot and even catch fire, so breakers (or fuses) function to prevent these worst-case scenarios.

Of course, tripped breakers can also be frustrating, especially when one stops you from using your air conditioner on a hot summer day. You should never attempt to bypass your breaker or run an AC with an obvious electrical fault, but these three diagnostic questions may help you track down the source of the problem.

1. Does the Breaker Trip Immediately?

When dealing with a potential wiring fault, determining when the fault occurs is the easiest first step. Fortunately, there are usually only two possibilities: the breaker trips immediately, or the breaker only trips after the system has been running for a while. Sometimes, your air conditioning may run for hours or even days before causing another fault.

If the breaker trips immediately after resetting, that usually points to a wiring fault. There may be an issue with the air conditioning equipment itself, such as a damaged wire inside the condenser, or there may be a fault in your home's wiring. In either case, you'll want a professional to investigate the problem. If the breaker doesn't trip immediately, you likely have a problem with an AC component.

2. Does the Breaker Trip at Start-Up?

Another possibility is that the system is drawing too much amperage when it starts up. Your compressor will always draw more power when it starts, but it shouldn't draw so much that it trips the breaker. If you notice a slight dimming when your AC turns on, that's the compressor drawing the extra power it needs to get going. However, significant dimming may indicate an issue.

If your breaker only trips occasionally when your AC first turns on, that's a good indication your compressor may be struggling to start. You may have a faulty capacitor, or there may be an underlying issue with your compressor. In some cases, a hard-start kit can resolve the problem. An HVAC technician can help you narrow down the problem and arrive at a cost-effective solution.

3. Does the Breaker Trip Under Load?

Finally, pay attention to whether the breaker only trips when your air conditioner is working hard on hot days. These symptoms may indicate that your system is struggling to keep up with the heat load, which can have numerous underlying causes. For example, simple maintenance issues such as a clogged air filter or dirty condenser coils can trip a breaker by overloading your blower or compressor.

In this case, start with the basics: replace your air filter and clean your condenser coils. If these steps don't resolve the problem, you'll need an expert to help you conduct further diagnostics.

For more information, contact a local AC repair contractor.


8 September 2022

preparing your furnace for winter

I know it can be difficult to make yourself think about getting your furnace running when the skies are sunny and the temperatures are hovering around 90, but it is the best time for you to think about your heating system. Getting ahead of the winter preparation game will help to save on the cost of the repairs because the need for furnace maintenance is usually at a low during the fall season. This blog will show you what you can do to prepare your furnace for winter and when you should hire a professional HVAC technician to take care of it for you.