Posted on: 23 March 2022
Tripped breakers can be a nuisance, especially when they cause some critical electrical device to stop working. Since a central air conditioning system needs a dedicated circuit, it's usually pretty easy to know that your AC is at fault for tripping a breaker. However, what is that tripped breaker telling you, and should you just flip it back on and go about your business?
The answer can be more complicated than you might expect. If your AC keeps tripping its breaker, here are three possible reasons why it's happening and what you can do to resolve the issue.
1. Wiring Short
Wiring shorts are among the most straightforward problems to identify, although locating and repairing shorts isn't always easy. A "short" can potentially refer to two issues: a legitimate short circuit or a ground fault. A short circuit occurs when the neutral and hot wires make contact, while a ground fault occurs when the hot or neutral wires make contact with the ground.
Either situation causes a sudden surge. Your breakers exist to protect your home's wiring, and this surge can potentially cause a fire if left unchecked. As a result, your breaker trips to save the wiring. If your breaker immediately trips after turning it back on, that's a good sign you have a wiring short. You'll most likely need a professional HVAC contractor to help you find and fix it.
2. Overheating Compressor
Anything that causes a sudden increase in the electrical draw on a circuit will potentially trip the breaker. Your compressor is the highest draw item on your AC circuit, so it's the most likely culprit for tripping your breaker. Compressors draw their highest load when starting, and an overworked and overheating compressor will draw more power.
You may have an overheating compressor if the system can run for a while before tripping the breaker. If your breaker only trips on hot days or when your system runs for a long time, that's another sign that the compressor is at fault. Common causes can include anything from clogged filters to dirty condenser coils to internal problems in the compressor unit.
3. Bad Blower Motor
The blower motor is another primary source of current draw on your AC circuit. Like your compressor, the blower motor draws the most current when it first turns on. Likewise, a faulty blower motor will pull more current than expected, potentially causing the breaker to trip. If the breaker trips when you hear the fan turning on (or the fan doesn't turn on at all), your blower motor may be to blame.
As with an overheating compressor, you'll want an HVAC technician to give your system a thorough inspection before condemning the motor. Other problems, such as a clogged filter, can overwork the blower and possibly even cause it to trip the breaker. A professional will help you rule out lower-cost problems before replacing the more expensive motor.
Contact an air conditioning repair service near you for more information.Share