Why Does My AC Keep Tripping the Breaker?

Why Does My AC Keep Tripping the Breaker?

It’s a hot summer day. Your AC comes on, and then … quickly turns off. Was that the breaker again? How do you make this madness stop?

You know the air conditioner is the culprit for drawing more electricity than the breaker is serviced for, and the circuit breaker is simply doing its job to prevent too much electricity from surging through the system and sparking a fire. Still the question remains, why is your AC drawing so much electricity?

Here we’ll discuss common causes for AC-specific circuit breaker trips.

Why Is My AC Tripping the Breaker?

Your circuit breaker is protecting your home from electrical surges that could cause electrocution or fire. If the breaker keeps tripping, don’t keep turning it on: It’s a sign that something is wrong and should be corrected before you try the breaker again.

Consider these common causes:

  • Clogged air filter. A dirty air filter can restrict the flow of air, causing the fan to work harder. The AC will draw an extra electrical current from the strain, causing the breaker to trip. The simple fix is to change the air filter.
  • Dusty condenser coils. Your outdoor AC unit’s condenser coils absorb heat drawn from inside your home and transfers it outside. When the condenser coils in the outdoor unit become too dirty, the dirt prevents the efficient transfer of heat. This causes the AC to draw more electricity to cool your house, resulting in a breaker trip.
  • Loose circuit breaker connection. Your AC could be functioning properly, but the connection between the unit and the breaker may be the issue. A loose wire or faulty breaker switch could make the breaker trip.
  • Electrical short. Although the electrical motor in your AC can run strong for hours, if it heats too much too fast, it can melt through the wire insulation and create an electrical short, potentially starting a fire. That is, it would if your breaker didn’t trip. If you suspect your tripping breaker is caused by a heat-induced short in your air conditioner, you need service fast and should not run your AC until it can be serviced and a dangerous short repaired or ruled out.
  • Worn compressor. The compressor in your AC is responsible for converting low-pressure, low-temperature refrigerant into a higher-pressure, higher-temperature form. This way, the warm air that has been absorbed from inside your home can then be properly condensed and released. So, when an AC compressor gets older, it sometimes needs extra juice to complete this conversion process, often resulting in it tripping the breaker. An HVAC expert will need to determine whether repair or replacement is needed.

Electrical issues are dangerous to troubleshoot yourself. If you’re dealing with any loose wiring or a faulty breaker, contact our Neighborly partners at Mr. Electric for electrical repair services.

Related Topic: AC Won’t Kick On? Try These Steps

Where Is My AC Circuit Breaker?

Your AC circuit breaker will be included in the main distribution panel (commonly recognized as a grey metal box) in your garage, basement, or closet. You may also find the panel outside your house instead. Inside the box, locate the breaker switch marked A/C or HVAC.

How Do I Stop My AC From Tripping the Breaker?

In some cases, your air conditioner may be functioning correctly but need a hard reset to stop tripping the breaker.

To do so:

  1. Turn the thermostat off to ensure that its signals don’t interfere with the reset process.
  1. Switch the AC circuit breaker to “on” in your main distribution panel.
  1. Wait a half-hour for the internal breaker to reset in the AC unit.
  1. Turn the thermostat back to cool. You should then feel the AC begin to blow cool air.

If resetting the unit didn’t solve the issue, it’s likely that your air conditioner requires professional repair or maintenance.

Related Topic: How to Clean AC Unit Coils

Don’t Trip and Keep Cool With Aire Serv AC Repair

Narrowing down why your AC keeps tripping the breaker is the first step to figuring out how to fix it. If it turns out an internal reset wasn’t enough to get your AC running again, reach out to your local Aire Serv professionals for air conditioner repair services. With years of experience, we can diagnose and fix a breaker that frequently trips so your home stays nice and cool throughout the season.