Last Updated on August 8, 2022 by Kevin Chen
Image Source: Unsplash
Have you ever arrived home from a sweltering day at work to find your house an even more intolerable sauna than the outside humidity? That’s because your air conditioner has tripped the circuit breaker again. And it’s not the first time this has happened. You have reset that breaker so many times now that you are ready to toss it out and replace with a new one. It isn’t just frustrating; it also means you can’t cool your house until that circuit is fixed. What could be going on? Let’s take a look at some possible explanations behind why your air conditioner keeps tripping the circuit breaker and how to fix it.
Circuit breakers are designed to trip
Breakers are devices that trip when the current flow through them surpasses a predetermined threshold. They are like circuit safety mechanisms that prevent fires from occurring as a result of overly high current. A combination of overheated wires and burning insulation can lead to a fire. Circuit breakers help prevent this. In the US, most household circuits are 15 amp.
Residential AC units are typically 16-20 amp. This means if the current is too high, the breaker will trip and reset itself. If you have an air conditioner that keeps tripping the circuit breaker, you need to check out the reasons below.
Dirty air filter
Air filters keep the internal components of your air conditioner clean so the machine can operate at peak capacity. If they become clogged with dirt, they can’t do that job properly. Without a clean filter, your air conditioner will have to work harder to cool your house. That can cause it to trip the circuit breaker.
The simplest solution is to clean the filter. But if you don’t clean it regularly, you could be doing some serious damage to your air conditioner. Dirty filters can cause two big problems for your AC: It could trip the circuit breaker as your unit works harder to cool your house, or it could have a shorter lifespan and need to be replaced sooner than it would if the filter had been clean. Most air conditioners require filters that need to be replaced every three months at the minimum. If you have a hard time remembering when to clean your filter, you could clean it at the beginning of every season. That way, you don’t risk damage from a dirty filter. It’s important to remember that outdoor air filters differ from indoor ones. An outdoor filter will catch debris like leaves and bugs that could damage the internal components of your AC. An indoor filter is designed to catch smaller particles like dust and pollen. You can use a vacuum to clean both types of filters. You can also use a steamer to clean the filter.
You Are Using the Wrong Size Breaker
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If your air conditioner is tripping the breaker but you have checked the air filter and the wiring. You need to make sure you are using the right breaker. The only way to know if you are using the right AC breaker is to use a circuit identifier. You can contact your utility company and ask them to send a representative out to check your wiring. If they find that the wiring is correct, they can check the breaker and reset it. If they find that the breaker is the problem, they will replace it for you. If you have a newer home, it’s unlikely that you have the wrong breaker. In fact, there is a good chance you have the right breaker.
The problem is that your AC is either too big or too small for the wiring. You can check the breaker and make sure that it’s the right breaker for the size of your AC. If it is, you would need to replace your air conditioner with one that is the proper size.
Air compressor is grounded
Air conditioners have three parts: the condenser, the evaporator, and the compressor. The compressor is the part that kicks on when the AC is on. If the compressor is grounded, it causes the circuit to trip and reset. If the circuit trips when the AC is on, the compressor is grounded. What causes the compressor to be grounded? Usually it’s because there is a loose screw. If the compressor is touching the frame, it can be grounded. If the compressor is grounded, use a screwdriver to tighten the screw. That could be all you need to do to get your AC running again.
Dirty air unit outside
Air conditioners need to be kept clean. Dirt and debris can get into the unit and clog the air flow. That could cause your AC to trip the circuit, especially if the outside of the unit is dirty. When the air isn’t flowing properly, your breaker will trip. Cleaning the outside of the air unit should solve the problem.
Short circuit on the electric motor of the conditioner
When the motor is running, it is creating a magnetic field. If the motor has a short on it, that field is going to be distorted. That could cause the field to affect the breaker and trip it. You would have to have the motor replaced.
Dirty condenser coils
The condenser coils clean the air of impurities. If they aren’t cleaned regularly, they can get dirty. When they are dirty, they aren’t working properly. That can cause the circuit to trip. You can clean the condenser coils with a garden hose. You can also use a leaf blower to remove the dirt from the coils. You could also use a garden hose with a nozzle attached. The other thing to check if you are having trouble with the AC is the compressor. It’s the most expensive part to replace and the most common culprit for trips.
Damaged coil fan
The coil fan is what brings air into the unit. If it is broken, it can cause the circuit to trip. The coil fan can break if it is hit by something. If you are having problems with your AC, check the coil fan and make sure it isn’t broken.
Aging air conditioner parts
Old air conditioners break down. Newer air conditioners are meant to last longer. But no matter what year the air conditioner is, it can still break down. If your AC is more than 10 years old, it is good to check it every year and make sure everything is clean and in working order.
When your AC keeps tripping the circuit breaker, it’s important to take a look at each part of the system to see where the problem lies. The most common reasons for this problem are dirty air filters and poor wiring. If you follow these tips and also use a good quality circuit breaker, you should be able to fix the problem.
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