why does my a c trip the circuit breaker
So you ve determined that your AC is tripping the breaker, but you re clueless as to why. Bummer. Well,
an air conditioner usually trips the breaker because it s pulling in more amps than the breaker is rated for. That is, if you have a 20-amp breaker and the AC pulls 30 amps, the breaker trips. That s why breakers trip: to protect you from overcurrents that can damage equipment and cause fires (yikes). So DON T keep resetting the breaker and letting it trip. Constant tripping can harm equipment and cause a fire. Find the cause of the problem first. Common causes of an air conditioner tripping the breaker include: You can fix the first problem yourself, but everything else requires an. Read on to learn why these problems cause an AC to trip the breaker. Or you can if you live in the. 1) Dirty air filter Imagine forcing a pillow over your face. Hard to breathe right? That s what a dirty filter does to your AC blower; the blower has to to work longer and harder to circulate air through the filter. This causes the blower to draw more electricity and trip the breaker. Solution : Change the air filter. 2) Dirty outside unit Your AC system has an inside unit and an outside unit. The inside unit absorbs heat from your air using refrigerant. That refrigerant flows to the outside unit to disperse the heat. However, the outside unit can t disperse heat well if it s super dirty because dirt is an insulator.
So the AC runs and runs trying to disperse that heat outside until click the breaker trips due to drawing too much current. Solution : Get an AC tech to properly clean the outside unit. You may be thinking, Why can t I clean it myself? Well, You lack the cleaning equipment and cleaning chemicals to clean the condenser coil professionally (and buying the wrong type of equipment can actually do more harm than good to the condenser). Cleaning it improperly could damage/flatten the fins wrapped around the coil. This blocks airflow over the coil and is just as bad as having the coil matted with dirt. 3) Issues with the circuit breaker The issue may not be with the AC itself but rather with the breaker. Wires connected to the breaker may be loose or the breaker itself may be bad and needs replacing. This is a relatively inexpensive fix. Solution : Have a tech tighten connections to the AC s breaker or replace the breaker. 4) Motor has shorted Electric motors in your AC can run for hours and hours and can take quite a bit of abuse. But if a motor runs hot for too long, the wire insulation can break down, leading to an electrical short. A short is where electricity bypasses its normal path, (so it s taking a shortcut ). This shortcut allows more electricity to flow than the wires can handle, causing the wires to overheat, melt and cause a fire. Of course, before the fire happens, the circuit breaker trips.
Solution :. 5) Compressor has trouble starting The heart of your AC system is the compressor. It pulls tons of electricity when it starts up. Unfortunately, as the compressor ages, it has trouble starting (called hard starting) and pulls even more electricity, causing the breaker to trip as a result. Solution : Have an AC technician install a hard start kit which is a capacitor that gives the compressor motor an extra electrical jolt to get it moving. However, the compressor may be old or damaged and need to be replaced instead. 6) Compressor is grounded A grounded compressor or compressor short to ground means that an electrical winding inside the compressor has broken and hit the side of the compressor. This causes a direct short to ground, igniting the oil and causing a burnout. And, of course, the circuit breaker trips due to the sudden current surge. Solution : This is the worst case scenario. An AC tech will have to replace the compressor and clean the refrigerant lines. If your compressor is out of warranty (or your warranty never covered it), you might as well replace the entire outside unit. Cheaper that way. (Compressors are pricy. ) Need an AC repair? Call Ragsdale Heating and Air If you ve changed the filter and that didn t help, call an AC technician for help. If you live in the,. (Save 10% by scheduling online. ) Why Does My AC Trip The Breaker? After the moment of panic when your AC trips the circuit breaker, take a deep breath.
The good news is that you can probably fix the problem yourself. Air conditioners can trip circuit breakers for a variety of reasons, and only in a few cases will you need the help of a professional HVAC technician. First, letвs remind ourselves of why circuit breakers trip. Breakers provide safety to your home, appliances and electrical system by preventing fires and electrical damage. If too much power flows through the circuit, the breaker trips to shut things off. In other words, the breaker is just doing its job when its turns off your AC. AC units trip breakers when overheated or malfunctioning. The tripped breaker tells you that the air conditioner has a problem. Why Your AC Trips the Breaker Before you get too worried that your air conditioner is broken, look for some of the more common reasons that the circuit breaker might have tripped. Cleaning and maintenance usually solve the problem quickly and easily. Dirty filters make the AC work harder and heat up. Consider this your wake-up call to change the filter more often! Before anything else, see if the filter is dirty and replace it. Itвs probably time to change the filter anyway. Condenser coils get dirty, too. Carefully remove any leaves and junk trapped inside the AC unit and hose down the coils. Dirty coils trap heat instead of letting the exhaust blow away as it should.
Low refrigerant makes the AC run longer and harder to reach the thermostatвs temperature. HVAC technicians can top up the refrigerant and check for a leak. Electrical components will fail eventually, especially with heavy use or when exposed to weather damage. Take a look at the wiring connections to see if things look old or beat up. Of course, you may also have an electrical problem not directly related to the AC system. Try resetting the circuit breaker to see if the AC stays on this time. ( Note: only reset the breaker once в if it keeps tripping, stop and call a professional. Continuously resetting the breaker risks damage to your AC unit and creates a fire risk). If the AC unit turns off very soon after resetting the breaker, there may be an electrical problem. If the AC runs for a while but the breaker trips again, overheating due to the above issues is more likely. DIY Fixes and When to Call a Professional Anyone can change the filter and clean the AC unit, unless itвs in a difficult location. Otherwise, the fastest and easiest solution is to bring in HVAC professionals. This way youвll know that your AC unit is running efficiently and safely, and any damaged parts will get replaced. Need help ending the headache of an AC that keeps tripping the breaker? Call Dynamic Air Services for fast, helpful and reliable HVAC service in Orange County and throughout Southern California.
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