Last Updated on October 27, 2023 by Kevin Chen
Image Source: Air-Compressor-help
If you’re a contractor, production worker, home DIYer, or some other type of professional in the trades, you know that air compressors are some of your most important tools. There are many different types of compressors available with a variety of uses.
If your air compressor uses electricity, then it must have a dedicated circuit breaker. You have discovered that of late, your compressor keeps tripping the circuit breaker.
You cannot overlook the inconvenience caused by a constantly tripping breaker.
Do you know what may be the cause of this?
Read on as we unveil the most probable causes.
Why does Air Compressor Need Breaker: What to Check First
As soon as you notice an issue with your compressor, you should get to work on a diagnosis to find out what the problem is. The first step is to check the breaker on your electrical circuit and see if it’s tripped.
If it is, then that’s a good indication that there’s too much power being drawn by your compressor. If it’s tripped, reset it and turn your compressor off.
When it comes back on, it will trip again since it’s overloading the circuit. You’ll need to hire a licensed electrician to increase the amperage of your circuit. If the breaker is not tripped, then move on to the next 10 points in this article.
Your Breaker May Be Defective
If your compressor keeps tripping the breaker but the breaker isn’t actually tripped, then it could be due to a faulty breaker.
This is a common problem that most homeowners face at some point. If your compressor is tripping a non-existent breaker, then you need to replace the faulty breaker.
For safety reasons, make sure you replace the breaker with a new one of the same rating.
Ensure that the breaker is of high quality.
The easiest way to do it is to hire a professional electrician.
The Air Compressor May Be Overloaded
An air compressor needs to run on enough amperage so it doesn’t burn out, but not so much that it overloads the circuit.
It’s important to calculate the amperage needed for your compressor before buying it.
If your compressor is overloaded, then you may need to buy a new one with a lower amperage. It’s better to buy a less powerful one than have your house or work site get blown up by an overloaded circuit!
You can also try to reduce the load on the compressor.
You can do this by reducing the number of tools that are plugged in to it or replacing them with lower-amperage tools.
There’s an issue with the wiring in your circuit
There may be a problem with the wiring in your circuit that’s causing the compressor to trip the breaker. If you replaced the compressor and it’s still tripping the breaker, you may need to also replace the circuit. If you don’t want to replace the whole circuit, you can try re-wiring the circuit to fix the issue.
Condenser coil is clogged
An air compressor works with a pump that cycles a refrigerant through a coil inside the machine. The cooler, moist air inside the coil condenses into liquid, allowing the compressor to transfer that liquid into pressurized, hot air.
However, if the coil is clogged with dirt, dust and other debris, it’ll cause the compressor to overheat and trip the breaker.
To clean out the coil, turn off the power to the compressor and remove the cover where the coil is. You’ll be able to see where the clog is, and you can use a long wire to unclog it.
High power is drawn during start up
Depending on the type of compressor you have, it may be drawing too much power when it’s starting up.
If your compressor keeps tripping the breaker, it could be due to the high power draw at the start-up phase.
You’ll want to check the owner’s manual to see what the amperage is at the start-up phase of your compressor.
Some compressors are designed to draw more power during start-up, while others have a lower amperage. If your compressor has a high amperage draw during start-up, you may need to replace it with a new one.
If you can’t afford a new compressor and don’t want to replace it, you can try lowering the amperage draw by installing a capacitor.
Damaged air compressor motor
If you’ve tried everything listed so far and your air compressor keeps tripping the breaker, it could be due to a motor issue.
If you notice that your compressor is making strange noises, it could be a warning sign of a motor issue.
If you hear clanking, a grinding or whirring noise, it’s time to call a repair technician.
Dirty and clogged air filter
One of the most important parts of an air compressor is the air filter.
This filter helps keep debris and water out of the system while the compressor is running. However, it can get clogged over time with all the dust and debris in the air.
If the filter gets too clogged, it can cause the compressor to trip the breaker because it’s trying to draw too much power.
You can clean the air filter with a garden hose or air compressor and replace the filter if needed. Make sure you replace the filter with the same type of filter for the best results.
If you’ve tried everything listed so far and your air compressor keeps tripping the breaker, it could be due to a faulty contactor.
If you have a two-stage compressor, it’ll have two contactors that start the compressor and shut it down when it reaches the desired pressure.
If one of the contactors isn’t closing properly, the compressor may start drawing too much power and trip the breaker.
If the contactor is faulty, you may need to replace it or have it repaired by a professional.
If your compressor keeps tripping the breaker, it could be due to an excess or inadequate amount of Freon. An air compressor runs on refrigerant gas to cycle cool, moist air inside the machine. If the compressor is drawing too much Freon from the tank, it can trip the breaker. If it’s drawing too little Freon from the tank, it can also trip the breaker. You may need to add more Freon to the tank if it’s too low, or you may need to reduce the amount of Freon if it’s too high. You may also need to clean the coil if it’s dirty or repair the compressor if it’s damaged.
When your air compressor keeps tripping the breaker, it can be frustrating. However, it’s important to figure out the underlying cause so you can get it fixed and back to normal operation.
Once you’ve figured out what’s wrong, you can fix it and get back to work!
Now that you know what to look for, it should be easier to identify what’s causing your compressor to trip the breaker.
Armed with this knowledge, you can get your compressor up and running in no time!
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