Finding Duct Leaks

What Should You Do If Your AC Keeps Tripping A Breaker?

When you turn on your home's air conditioner, there's only one thing that you want greeting you: cool, refreshing air. Unfortunately, central air conditioning systems can be as vulnerable to failures as any other major home appliance. While air conditioning systems often begin to fail as they age, problems can creep up at nearly any time, especially if you've been deferring routine maintenance.

One potential problem you may experience, especially as temperatures climb, is a system that refuses to stay on without tripping your circuit breaker. Your home's circuit breakers help keep your property (and family) safe from fires, so this isn't a warning sign you should ignore. So, what should you do, and how can you get your system running again? Keep reading to learn more!

Resetting Your Breaker

If your air conditioner trips your breaker once, it's generally safe to head to your main service panel and reset the affected breaker. Give the system a few minutes to run and see if the problem comes back. In some cases, older compressors may struggle to turn on, drawing more power in the process and causing the breaker to trip again.

As long as your system seems to be functioning again, you can continue to use it. However, it's never normal for an air conditioner to trip a breaker. The problem will most likely return eventually, so you should plan to have a service technician visit sooner rather than later. If the AC continues tripping breakers, stop using the system immediately and do not continue to reset your breaker.

Understanding Why Breakers Trip

Circuit breakers will trip due to short circuits and overloads. Each circuit for your home uses a breaker with a specific amperage rating, and anything on that circuit that attempts to draw more amperage will trip the breaker. This protection is essential because it prevents an appliance from drawing more power than the wires can handle, which may start a fire. Ground faults and short circuits will also trip the breaker.

Overloads are often a common problem with air conditioner units. These overloads can be caused by a faulty compressor or blower drawing too much amperage for your breaker, but there are also less serious causes. For example, a dirty filter or condenser coils can cause critical components to struggle, causing them to draw too much power.

Unfortunately, ground faults and short circuits are an even more challenging problem to track down and potentially more dangerous. Faults can exist almost anywhere in the system, although chewed or damaged wiring in the outdoor unit is the most common cause. Since ground faults can potentially start fires, it's critical to avoid resetting a breaker that keeps tripping.

In almost all cases, contacting an HVAC professional is the best course of action when dealing with an AC that won't stay on. A professional will have the skills and knowledge to get to the bottom of the problem, ensuring your system can run safely. 

Contact a local AC repair service to learn more.