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My AC Is Tripping the Circuit Breaker! What’s Wrong?

During the winter, we looked at how a tripped circuit breaker can occur with a furnace. It can happen with your air conditioning system as well—it definitely has to work hard during our hot summers here in the Central Valley! An air conditioning system is a powerful appliance that draws on large amounts of electricity, which makes it possible for it to demand too much and cause a breaker to trip to protect the circuit. When that happens, the air conditioning system won’t run.

We advise people to always check their breakers when their AC suddenly shuts down. If you run into this situation, but the air conditioner continues to cause the circuit to trip, you have a more serious issue that will require professional air conditioning repair in Oakhurst, CA or elsewhere in the Central Valley.

Why an Air Conditioning System Might Trip a Circuit Breaker

A breaker trips because of an increase in voltage along the circuit. The real question is why this is occurring when the AC is running. Here are a few of the possibilities:

  • Clogged air filter: We often write about the importance of changing the air filter in the HVAC system on a regular basis, and here’s one of the reasons why. When the air filter is heavily clogged, it places extra strain on the blower motor as it tries to power the blower to draw air through all that obstruction. The blower motor is one of the components in an AC system that draws on the most electricity, so if it overstrains, it can cause a tripped breaker.
  • Malfunctioning blower motor: The issue may not be anything external making the motor run more than necessary. The motor itself could be malfunctioning and creating an electrical short—the quickest path to a tripped circuit breaker! The motor will need to be replaced, which is a job that can only be done by HVAC professionals.
  • Grounded compressor: Loose wires in the outdoor unit of an air conditioning system can ground the compressor, causing electricity to leap through the compressor and into the ground, creating an electrical short. Trouble with the compressor is serious and needs immediate attention.
  • The compressor is struggling to start: An aging compressor can have difficulty starting up the cooling cycle. Because the compressor uses the most electricity of any part of the air conditioning system, this can easily trip a circuit breaker. If your AC is more than 10 to 15 years old, it may be better to replace the system rather than try to repair this problem.

Most of these problems are avoidable if you have regular maintenance for your air conditioning system before the summer heat hits. This is why we urge you to sign up for our Ultimate Service Agreement so you can have your AC (and heater) inspected and properly tuned-up. You can always count on us 7 days a week when you need repairs, but we’d love to help you avoid having to make repair calls in the first place because we’ve already seen that your air conditioning system is in the best shape thanks to routine maintenance.

At Purl’s Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning, quality is the cornerstone of our success—since 1952.

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