Why Does my AC Circuit Breaker Keep Tripping?

  You should not take the circuit breaker tripping on your HVAC system lightly.

A circuit breaker by design is a safety mechanism that shuts the air conditioning unit off if there is a problem. We recommend that the circuit breaker is reset one time and if the AC breaker trips immediately, do not reset again. Please note that an AC unit has high voltage. Unless you are comfortable and have the proper tools to diagnose correctly, DO NOT ATTEMPT REPAIRS. It can severely injure if not kill you.Call a professional to check the air conditioner system for a problem.

Common Reasons Why the Circuit Breaker Trips

There are two separate circuits if you have a split central AC system. Typically theses are marked as air handler/ heat and condensing unit in your breaker panel.
  • Air handler breaker is tripping:
1.Shorted blower motor

The blower motor has electrically shorted. Sometimes time the fan motor internal windings fail, and an electrical short is created. The only solution is to replace the motor.

2. Electrical wiring short

A poor electrical connection can create excess amperage or a direct short to the air handler cabinet. This is pretty obvious to find. Repair the connection and or wiring.

3. Electric Heat Strips

The heat strips themselves are the biggest energy draw in the air handler when energized. The electric heat element resembles a large toaster element. We have seen this item break, creating an electrical short against the air handler cabinet.

4. Blower run capacitor fails The run capacitor helps the air handler blower motor run more efficiently. If the run capacitor fails the amperage the motor draws will increase. Sometimes this enough to trip the circuit breaker.
  • Condensing unit is tripping the breaker:
1. Shorted compressor

An electrical short in the compressor will defiantly trip the breaker. The only solution is to replace the compressor.

2. Weak Compressor

The compressor is pulling too much amperage on start up. When the compressor first kicks on, it pulls a lot of amperage. If the compressor is weak, the amperage can spike enough to create a problem. It is possible to install an additional relay and start capacitor to help this situation. This added capacitor gives the compressor a boost on startup and then drops out of the circuit quickly.

3. Condenser fan is shorted.

An electrical short in the condenser fan will also trip the condenser breaker. If you notice the outside unit running but the fan is not spinning, It is likely the motor itself has failed or that the capacitor is bad.

4. Contactor is defective

The contactor in the condensing unit is an electrical switch that supplies power to the compressor and the condenser fan motor.If this switch doesn't make full contact when it closes, it can create excess amperage on the circuit.

5. Circuit breaker itself is defective

It is possible the circuit breaker itself is getting weak. Sometimes the armature internally gets weak causing the breaker to trip even when there is no excess voltage. The solution here is to replace the breaker. If the circuit breaker gets hot to the touch, It may be that the wiring at the breaker terminals are loose. A poor connection can create excess heat that will also cause a trip.

Preventative Maintenance is Key

Having your HVAC system inspected at least once a year will help eliminate most of these problems. Part of our inspection includes checking the rated amperage on the system components.

If we find anything out of the ordinary, a simple repair can save you a lot of trouble and money.

Air Zero provides HVAC service to the St. Petersburg, Largo, and Seminole Fl. area as well as Clearwater. Air Zero services all of Pinellas County. Call to schedule today 727-392-6111