Outside AC Unit Tripping Breaker: What To Do

image of a circuit breaker that controls air conditioning system

During the summer, you just want to hang around the house and relax in your air-conditioned home. However, what if your HVAC unit breaks down or if you deal with a a common air conditioner malfunction, such as the outside AC unit tripping breaker ? Your house will feel uncomfortably warm, which is an unwelcomed situation during the peak of the heat. Of course, nobody wants to be in such a situation. Therefore, just to be safe, it’s important to have a trusted HVAC technician’s number available. This article shares some air conditioner troubleshooting tips for an air conditioner compressor that keeps tripping the circuit breaker.

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The Air Conditioner Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping

Sometimes, you may find out that the outside AC unit may be tripping your circuit breaker. To understand why this happens, you need to know the major parts of an HVAC. The compressor can be found in the outside air conditioning unit. This part is responsible for the cooling function of the AC unit. It is through the compressor that the refrigerant can circulate, absorb indoor heat and push it outdoors. After every cycle, the home gets cooler until the temperature reaches the thermostat settings. At this point, the air conditioning unit automatically turns off. The compressor consumes a lot of energy during each cooling cycle, which may lead to a tripped breaker. When the breakers trip, there isn’t any power supplied to the compressor, which will make it fail. Given how important the compressor is, it’s important to take good care of it.

What Makes AC Unit Breakers Trip?

There are various reasons why a circuit breaker may fail. To understand the reasons, you have to know the function of a circuit breaker. This is a protective part that automatically engages when the unit is faulty or at risk of being damaged. Breakers automatically trip to immediately save the unit from impending damage due to things like current surges and short circuits.

When breakers trip, they interrupt the current flow and, therefore, reduce the risk of the unit catching fire. Before circuit breakers were invented, electrical equipment was protected by a self-engaging fuse, which had to be replaced after each use. But circuit breakers are way more resilient. They can be reset and work fine, just as before. However, if tripping occurs frequently, then you may need to buy a new breaker. Here are the common reasons why circuit breakers trip.

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1. Clogged Air Filter

image of a dirty air conditioner filter causing ac tripping breaker

When tripping occurs, check the temperature of the outside air conditioner. One of the most common reasons why circuit breakers trip is dirty air filters. When filters get clogged by dirt and other debris, they prevent fresh air from cooling the system. In turn, the system overheats, and this makes the circuit breaker trip.

Clogged filters also reduce the performance of the cooling unit. If you have used your unit for some time, you may realize it is not performing as optimally as before. For this reason, you should always check the air filters for debris buildup.

2. Clogged Air Conditioner Condenser Coils

Dust and other pollutants may also build up on the condenser and prevent efficient airflow through it. When air is restricted from reaching the unit, the cooling system can overheat, and this will make the breakers trip. Sometimes, if the overheating is not too much, the system may continue working, but it will be very inefficient. Therefore, to reduce the chances of the breakers tripping, you should always clean the condenser coils at least once a year via an annual HVAC tune-up. Contact trusted HVAC technicians in your area to do the work for you.

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3. Broken Air Conditioner Coil Fan

In the air conditioning unit, several fans are used to cool the system. The fan motors are usually on the outside. When the wind blows, the fan blades spin, and the wind-generated cools the coils. The fans won’t work optimally if the fans are failing. The fans may fail due to wear and tear or simply because they were not installed properly. To be sure whether some coil fans may be broken, contact a professional HVAC company in your town for an inspection.


4. Difficult-To-Start Compressor

Given how important the compressor is to the functioning of an outside AC unit, manufacturing companies design and test the parts to ensure they will perform optimally and last a long time. However, sometimes you may realize that the compressor takes a long time to start or consumes a lot of energy when engaged. Such a situation can make the circuit breakers trip. Contact an experienced HVAC technician to diagnose and remedy this problem.

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5. Old Air Conditioner Parts & Loose Wiring

air conditioner wiring

Away from the compressor, there may be other parts responsible for breakers tripping. For example, the air conditioning system wiring may have aged, and several wires are exposed. These wires may touch each other when they are not supposed to and lead to the breakers tripping.

If you suspect this is the problem in your case, do not attempt to do any kind of repair by yourself. Instead, call a professional HVAC technician to carry out a professional inspection and advise you accordingly.

6. Failing Air Conditioning Capacitors

The role of capacitors is to get the compressor started. If the compressor fails to start, the capacitors will increase the amount of current they produce, and this can make the breakers trip. The capacitor may also fail because of aging. When this happens, it won’t work as it is supposed to. In this case, you should contact an HVAC technician to replace the failed capacitor.

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7. Aged or Weak Air Conditioner Compressor

Compressors perform at their best when they are still new. A new outside AC unit is likely to last over a decade, especially when it is well maintained. However, after years of service, the compressor will be subjected to wear and tear and start being inefficient. For example, they may not be able to cool the system due to a lack of power. Attempts to get the compressor to start the cooling cycle may lead to more power being produced, which can end up tripping the breakers. Compressors are integral parts of an outside air conditioning unit. When malfunctioning, it should only be repaired by qualified HVAC technicians. Our experienced technicians will be happy to service your HVAC system to ensure it works well and is energy efficient.


Could the Air Conditioner Breaker be Problematic?

Sometimes, breakers may trip because they are faulty. It’s rare for breakers to be faulty but to find out the root cause of your outside AC not working properly, the parts should also be evaluated. Today’s breakers are made of sturdy switches. This is why it’s rare for them to be faulty. However, if your air conditioner has been in operation for decades, the switches could have become weaker over time, making it easier for the breakers to trip. If this is the case, you should install new breakers. These will be more reliable and, therefore, would improve the performance of your AC unit.

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If your air conditioning unit’s breaker has tripped, this is usually a sign that your AC unit has a problem. Determining the real cause of the problem can be difficult without doing a thorough professional inspection. Experienced HVAC technicians can help you with the diagnosis, repair, and/or replacement of faulty parts of your cooling unit. Get in touch with Townsend Energy for troubleshooting and repair of inefficient HVAC units.

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te logoTownsend Energy is an experienced and trusted HVAC company that provided HVAC repair services in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. Our team can help you with installations, replacements, repairs, and tune-up of your indoor and outdoor HVAC units.

When you call Townsend Energy, you are guaranteed to get competitive heating and cooling services in the area. Our team is on standby, ready to ensure your HVAC units are working optimally and efficiently. Our vast experience and low overhead costs give us an edge over our competitors and allow us to offer services at competitive rates. No matter what kind of HVAC problem you have, we provide dependable service while staying within your budget.

We offer a guarantee for all the work we do. That is how confident we are in our services. Ready to get your HVAC restored to optimal working condition? Get in touch with Townsend Energy to schedule a service appointment. Best of all, you have nothing to lose as we offer free in-home estimates. Call us today!

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