Reasons Your AC Unit is Tripping the Breaker

By Austin Heyen, Head of Aurora’s HVAC Division

August 12, 2019

An air conditioner that is tripping the breaker shouldn’t be accepted as “normal.” Simply resetting the circuit breaker and forgetting about it until the next time is also not an adequate response. In fact, inactivity could lead to permanent and very expensive damage to your air conditioner. Here’s what’s usually going on when an air conditioner is tripping the breaker and what needs to be done to resolve it:

Low or No Air Flow: If system airflow is obstructed, the unit may run non-stop, overheating the compressor and causing it to draw excess amps which trips the circuit  breaker. Low air flow could be a simple DIY matter such as replacing a clogged air filter. Or, it could be something more complex such as ice forming inside the indoor evaporator coil and blocking airflow. Usually a consequence of low refrigerant charge due to a leak somewhere, coil icing requires the services of a qualified HVAC technician to troubleshoot the issue, repair any leak and restore refrigerant charge to normal. 

Outdoor Condenser Coil Issues: If the outside half of the air conditioner has accumulated large amounts of dust and dirt or other debris like grass clippings and leaves, it may be preventing proper heat dissipation from the condenser coil. This also causes the air conditioner to run very long cycles and over-stresses the compressor, eventually leading to a tripper breaker. Since the compressor is the most expensive component in the system, long-term damage can be quite costly. Schedule a complete inspection by a cooling professional including coil cleaning if necessary.

Weak Compressor Run Capacitor: Every time your air conditioner cycles on, the run capacitor jump starts the compressor with a jolt of voltage. Over time, however, the capacitor loses the required capacity to provide adequate starting voltage and the compressor strains, drawing excessive amps that trip the circuit breaker. A run capacitor is a replaceable component and the repair can be handled by a qualified HVAC service person.

For professional service to troubleshoot an air conditioner that is tripping the breaker, contact Aurora Plumbing, Electrical, Heating and Cooling. 701-242-7202