5 Reasons Why Your Air Conditioner Trips the Circuit Breaker

3 March 2016
 Categories: , Articles


Having your air conditioning system suddenly trip its circuit breaker is usually just a bit of an inconvenience. However, multiple trips during a single day could signal some serious issues with your air conditioning system that should be resolved as soon as possible. The following article takes a look at 5 common reasons why your AC system could trip its circuit breaker.

Reason #1: Clogged Air Filter

Did you know that something as simple as a clogged air filter could cause your AC system to trip the circuit breaker? As the air filter traps dust and debris, it becomes harder for air to flow through the filter. Once the filter is full of debris, it becomes impossible for air to pass through.

To compensate for the lack of air flow, the blower fan works harder to pull air through the AC system. This could cause the blower fan to pull far more current than the circuit can handle, resulting in the circuit breaker being tripped. The simple act of replacing your air filter on a monthly basis can prevent this problem from occurring.

Reason #2: Blocked Evaporator Coil

A blocked evaporator coil can cause many of the same problems as a clogged air filter. The dark and damp confines of the evaporator coil make it an attractive place for mold, mildew, and algae to take hold. Uncontrolled mold, mildew, and algae growth can cover significant portions of the evaporator coil, preventing air from flowing through the evaporator coil as designed.

As with a clogged air filter, an evaporator coil blockage can add undue strain on the blower fan, eventually resulting in a tripped circuit breaker. Having your evaporator coil cleaned on a regular basis can help prevent this problem from occurring. Mounting a UV lamp near the coil can also prevent mold and algae growth from becoming a problem in the future.

Reason #3: Low Refrigerant Charge

Not having enough refrigerant in your air conditioning system can cause the unit to trip its circuit breaker. Low pressures caused by the lack of refrigerant can make it difficult for the AC compressor to circulate its existing refrigerant charge without drawing excess current. This excess current draw could eventually lead to the circuit breaker being tripped.

Reason #4: Wiring Shorts

Wiring shorts can also cause a significant danger to your home's electrical system. Wiring shorts typically occur when a hot wire comes into contact with other exposed wires, causing additional current to surge through the circuit. This commonly happens when the wires have had their insulation damaged due to improper installation, animal damage, or overheating. Wiring shorts can not only lead to a tripped circuit breaker, but they also pose a significant fire hazard.

Reason #5: AC Component Failure

Circuit breaker issues can also stem from failing AC components. For example, a burnt-out compressor can draw more than its fair share of electricity, with the excess amp draw resulting in a tripped circuit breaker. A defective or failing capacitor can also trip the circuit breaker if it doesn't receive the electrical boost it needs to start the AC system. A blower motor with bad bearings or a significant lack of lubricant can drag and overheat as it operates, resulting in higher current draws and the increased risk of tripping the circuit breaker.

In the end, proactive HVAC maintenance can help prevent many of the above problems from impacting your home's electrical system. If you're having problems with your AC system constantly tripping its circuit breaker, then you may want to have your HVAC contractor perform an in-depth inspection of your unit. Read more about air conditioning repair here.