Why Is My AC Tripping The Breaker? A Florida Tech Answers
May 17, 2021
If your AC has tripped the circuit breaker, the first thing you’ll want to do is reset it.
You can do this by flipping the switch to OFF then ON and waiting about 30 seconds.
If you’ve done this and your AC still isn’t working, it’s time to call an electrician. Do NOT reset it again—you don’t want to risk damaging your electrical panel.
If your AC is frequently tripping the circuit breaker, it’s probably due to a variety of common causes like:
- A clogged air filter
- Dirty condenser unit
- Refrigerant leak
- Broken fan motor
- Compressor malfunction
- Circuit breaker issue
Below, we’ll go into why these issues happen and how to get your AC running smoothly again.
Need help from an experienced Florida electrician? Contact Red Cap. Our licensed technicians are here for same-day service and quick, no-hassle AC repairs. We’re also open Saturdays at no extra charge!
Cause #1: Clogged air filter
If your air filter is clogged, sometimes this alone can trip your circuit breaker.
Air has to pass through your air filter before it’s cooled and pushed out throughout your home. When the filter is clogged with dust, dirt, hair or other contaminants, air won’t be able to pass through it.
With a clogged filter, your AC system has to work harder than normal to compensate for the blockage and meet your desired temperature. Because your electrical circuit isn’t used to this level of power consumption, your circuit breaker may trip out of protection.
To avoid any unnecessary strain, regularly replace your air filters.
Cause #2: Dirty condenser unit
That big box outside your home is what’s called the “condenser unit.” This is where excess heat pulled from inside your home is dissipated to the air outside.
Over time, the condenser unit can get covered in dirt and other yard debris, which blocks the heat transfer. This can cause your AC to go into overdrive and strain your electrical circuit.
Routine maintenance of your AC system will help you avoid this problem. But if your breaker keeps tripping and you suspect it’s the condenser unit, contact an HVAC professional. They’ll come out and clean it properly.
Note: You don’t want to risk electrical harm to yourself or your AC unit, so it’s best to not attempt a DIY cleaning.
Cause #3: Refrigerant leak
To cool your air, your AC uses a liquid refrigerant that absorbs the heat from your warm indoor air.
If your refrigerant levels are low, your AC won’t be able to properly cool your home, which forces your AC to strain and the breaker to trip.
A tell-tale sign of low refrigerant levels is when your AC sounds like it’s “hissing” or if you see ice forming on the outdoor unit.
Given the toxicity of chemical refrigerant, it’s important to hire a qualified, licensed professional to repair the leak for you.
Cause #4: Broken fan motor
Your AC has two fans: one that pushes cool air throughout your home and one that blows hot air back outside.
If the motor within either of these fans breaks down, your electrical circuit will “short,” causing the breaker to trip.
You see, the motor receives power via wires from your AC system. So, if the motor is off or running poorly, there will be an excess of power flowing to a source that can’t actually receive it.
As a fail-safe, your electrical system will detect this malfunction, and immediately turn it off. This is to avoid wires from frying and causing a potential fire.
A good sign that you have a motor issue is when you can’t hear any sound coming from either fan. In this case, contact a licensed AC expert to repair the motor for you.
Cause #5: Compressor malfunction
Your AC’s compressor is critical because its job is to help circulate the liquid refrigerant.
Because the compressor needs power to function, it too will “short” and force your circuit breaker to trip if it breaks.
Unfortunately, compressor issues are expensive to repair. Upon inspection of your AC system, depending on the age, condition and warranty of your unit, an AC replacement may be a more cost-effective choice.
Cause #6: Circuit breaker problem
It’s possible that your AC is fine but you have a problem with the circuit breaker itself.
Signs that you have a faulty breaker include:
- Heat coming from the circuit breaker panel
- A burning smell coming from the circuit breaker
- Obvious signs of wear or burnt parts
If you detect any of these issues, call an electrician immediately.
Need an AC repair in Tampa? Call Red Cap Plumbing and Air.
We’ll send a licensed AC technician straight to your home for a quick, no-hassle AC repair. With upfront prices, honest recommendations and quality service — we’ve got you covered.
At Red Cap, we treat our customers like family. We know how important it is to have a working AC in Florida, so our skilled team of pros will do everything we can to get your system running safely again!
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