4 Things That Cause Your AC to Trip a Circuit Breaker and What to Do

Posted on: 10 September 2021


If your air conditioner trips a breaker, it might be a one-time event that goes away once you reset the breaker. However, if your AC has an electrical problem, the breaker might trip off repeatedly. If this occurs, shut down your air conditioner and call an AC contractor for help. Here are four things that might be wrong.

1. A Capacitor Is Bad

Your air conditioner has a capacitor on the blower motor in the air handler, and there's another one for the fan motor and compressor in the condenser. When a capacitor goes bad, the part it supplies power to has to struggle to start. This might cause the AC to pull more amps than the breaker is rated to handle. This causes the breaker to flip off as a protective measure so an electrical fire doesn't start.

When a capacitor goes bad, an AC contractor can replace it with a new one. They might also need to check the compressor or fan motors just to make sure those parts weren't damaged when the capacitor was dead.

2. The Compressor Has a Short

An electrical short in the compressor can trip a breaker. This is an AC problem you don't want to have since the compressor is an expensive part. The AC contractor can remove the fan from the top of the condenser and check the compressor that's on the bottom of the condenser with a multimeter. If they confirm the compressor is bad, it will need to be replaced.

3. The Condenser Coils Are Clogged

If you have trees or plants around your AC that shed fluff or tiny debris that floats through the air, the condenser coil might get coated with debris and causes the AC to malfunction due to lack of airflow. Lack of airflow puts stress on other parts in the condenser and causes them to pull more amps to operate. This could cause the breaker to flip off.

When the condenser coils are coated with fluff, leaves, grass clippings, or anything else, the AC contractor can clean them away with a garden hose. However, since the other parts were under strain, the contractor might want to check them and make sure nothing was damaged while the AC was malfunctioning.

4. The Contactor Is Bad

The contactor in the condenser is where power enters the unit and is passed to the capacitor. The contactor is an electrical part, so if it goes bad or if the wiring that connects to it is bad, the circuit breaker might trip. The contactor is easy to check with a multimeter to determine if it's bad. If it is faulty, the AC contractor can change it and stop your breaker from tripping.

For more information, contact AC contractors through services like Ogeechee Heating & Air Inc.