AC Breaker Keeps Tripping? Here's Why
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Why Your AC Breaker Keeps Tripping

resetting tripped circuit breakerDealing with an AC system that keeps tripping your electrical breaker can be frustrating, especially when it’s hot outside, and you rely on your air conditioner for comfort. Understanding the reasons behind this recurring issue is crucial for troubleshooting the problem.

From electrical issues to equipment malfunctions, several factors can cause an AC unit to keep tripping the breaker. Let’s explore some common causes and cover ways to diagnose and resolve this issue.

What Is an AC Breaker?

An AC breaker is a safety device that protects the electrical circuit that powers your air conditioning system. It’s typically located in your home’s electrical panel or breaker box. The AC breaker acts as a switch that can be turned off manually to interrupt the flow of electricity to the AC unit in case of electrical faults, overloads, or short circuits.

When a problem arises that could damage the electrical system or pose a safety hazard, the breaker automatically trips, cutting off power to the AC unit to prevent further damage or fire hazards.

Why Does My AC Breaker Keep Tripping?

Your AC can trip the breaker after five minutes due to various factors, including:

  • Electrical overload
  • Dirty air filters that restrict airflow
  • Refrigerant leaks that cause the compressor to overheat
  • Faulty capacitors or relays that draw excessive current
  • Compressor issues
  • Faulty wiring that leads to short circuits
  • Extreme weather conditions
  • Internal AC unit problems.

These issues can disrupt the normal function of the air conditioning system, leading to repeated breaker trips to prevent electrical damage or fire hazards. Identifying and addressing the underlying cause is essential to ensure the safe operation of your AC unit.

7 Common Causes of Your AC Breaker Tripping

Clogged Air Filter

A clogged air filter is a common culprit of AC breaker trips. When the air filter becomes clogged with dust, dirt, and debris, it restricts airflow to the AC system. As a result, the system has to work harder to pull in air, causing increased strain on the components. This additional strain can lead to overheating, particularly in the compressor and motor, which may cause the breaker to trip to prevent damage or electrical hazards.

Regularly changing or cleaning the air filter helps prevent this issue and ensures proper airflow, reducing the likelihood of breaker trips and extending the lifespan of your AC system.

dirty air filter

Dirty Condenser Coils

Condenser coils dissipate heat from the refrigerant, allowing the AC system to cool your home. However, when the condenser coils become coated with dirt, grime, and debris, their ability to transfer heat is compromised. As a result, the AC compressor must work harder to maintain the desired temperature, leading to increased energy consumption and strain on the system. This can cause the compressor to overheat and trip the breaker as a safety precaution.

Regularly cleaning and maintaining the condenser coils helps prevent this issue, ensuring optimal performance and minimizing the risk of breaker trips.

Worn or Broken Coil Fan

The coil fan, located in the AC system’s outdoor unit, plays a vital role in dissipating heat from the condenser coils. If the coil fan becomes worn out or malfunctions due to wear and tear, debris accumulation, or electrical issues, it may fail to remove heat from the coils. The AC compressor may run hotter than usual, leading to increased power consumption and strain on the system, which can trigger the breaker to trip to prevent further damage.

Regular inspection and maintenance of the coil fan will help you identify and address any issues early on, reducing the risk of breaker trips and ensuring efficient cooling performance.

Faulty Parts or Wiring

Faulty electrical components or damaged wiring within the AC unit can cause electrical faults or short circuits, which may lead to breaker trips. Common culprits include defective capacitors, relays, contactors, or wiring issues such as frayed or corroded wires. When these components malfunction, they can disrupt the normal flow of electricity within the system, causing the breaker to trip as a protective measure.

Have a qualified HVAC technician inspect and repair any faulty parts or wiring to ensure the safe and reliable operation of your AC system.

a burned cable or wire

Low AC Refrigerant

Refrigerant is essential for the cooling process in your AC system, absorbing heat from indoor air and transferring it outside. If the refrigerant levels are low due to leaks or improper charging, it can affect the system’s ability to cool effectively. Low refrigerant levels cause the AC compressor to work harder to achieve the desired temperature, leading to increased energy consumption and strain on the system. This can result in an overheating compressor and subsequent breaker trips.

Professional inspection, leak detection, and refrigerant recharge are necessary to address this issue and prevent further damage to your AC system.

Frozen Evaporator Coil

A frozen evaporator coil is a common issue that can lead to AC breaker trips. When warm air from your home passes over the cold evaporator coils, moisture in the air condenses and freezes on the coils’ surface. This ice buildup restricts airflow and reduces the system’s ability to absorb heat, causing the AC unit to run continuously to achieve the desired temperature. The increased workload can lead to an overheating compressor and motor, triggering the breaker to trip as a safety precaution.

Thawing the evaporator coil, identifying and addressing the root cause of the freezing (such as low refrigerant levels or restricted airflow), and regular maintenance can help prevent this issue and ensure the efficient operation of the AC system.

Grounded Compressor

A grounded compressor occurs when the electrical winding inside the compressor comes into contact with the outer casing, creating a ground fault. This problem can happen due to insulation breakdown, compressor motor failure, or physical damage to the compressor. When the compressor becomes grounded, it can cause a short circuit or electrical overload, leading to the breaker tripping to prevent electrical hazards or damage to the system.

Fixing a grounded compressor requires professional diagnosis and repair by a qualified HVAC technician to ensure safe and efficient AC operation.

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Rely on Randazzo to Fix Your Tripping AC Breaker

We understand the importance of maintaining a comfortable home environment, especially during the hot summer months. With our comprehensive air conditioning and electrical repair services, homeowners in Macomb, MI, and surrounding areas like Detroit, Ann Arbor, Farmington Hills, and Troy can trust us to keep their homes cool and comfortable year-round.

Whether you’re dealing with AC breaker trips, electrical coding issues, or another HVAC concern, the Randazzo team will provide the reliable solutions you need.

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