Outside AC Unit Tripping Breaker

circuit breaker box

Power-related problems are troublesome because they can completely stop the air conditioner from running. When it is scorching hot outdoors, people want nothing more than to chill in their homes. They won’t be happy if, for example, the outside AC unit tripping breaker. Incidents like this cause discomfort and frustration, especially since homeowners might not even understand what’s going on. This article tries to shed light on the matter. HVAC technicians are also available to lend immediate assistance.

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Outside AC Unit Keeps Tripping The Circuit Breaker

The outside AC unit contains the compressor. This is the most important part of the entire cooling system. It enables the circulation of the refrigerant which absorbs indoor heat and pushes it outdoors, similar to a heat pump. The home gets a little bit cooler after every cycle until it reaches the thermostat setting and the AC turns off by itself. The compressor requires a lot of energy to do its job. If the breakers trip, then it won’t receive power and it won’t be able to function. Given its importance, this situation calls for the undivided attention of the homeowners.

Why Do Air Conditioner Breakers Trip?

There are countless reasons why a circuit breaker could trip. Remember that this is a protective mechanism that automatically engages in potentially dangerous situations. Breakers trip to shield the system from damage due to short circuits and current surges.

By interrupting the flow of current, they reduce the risk of fire and keep connected equipment safe. Before their invention, electrical systems relied on a fuse that required replacement after a single-use. Circuit breakers are not as fragile. It is possible to reset them and resume normal operations. However, resets may be insufficient if tripping recurs frequently. The following will need further investigation:

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1. Dirty Air Filter

image of a dirty air conditioner filter causing ac tripping breaker

What is the state of the air conditioner right before the breaker gets tripped? If the problem happens again, check the temperature of the unit. Overheating is a sign of dirty air filters. These prevent the flow of air due to clogged air passages. Fresh air can’t cool the system down, so heat simply builds up until the system can no longer operate safely.

Dirty filters also reduce system efficiency and performance. You may be able to feel the difference. That’s why reusable filters should undergo cleaning every few months. The exact schedule is dependent on the frequency of use and the level of outdoor pollution.

2. Dirty Air Conditioner Condenser Coils

Aside from the filters, the condenser coils may also get dirty due to dust and other pollutants floating in the air. The layer of dirt can get so thick that it acts as insulation. This prevents coils from expelling heat outdoors. In the worst cases, the AC may suffer from an electrical short that causes the system to overheat. In less severe situations, the system may still run but it will draw more energy than usual to cool down the house. It is always a good idea to check the coils periodically and clean them up before this problem arises. Cleaning is part of annual HVAC tune-ups offered by HVAC companies. Just call them up and schedule a visit.

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3. Broken Air Conditioner Coil Fan

Inside cooling units are coil fans that are essential for cooling. The motors are usually located outdoors. When the blades spin, the wind that is generated removes heat from coils. If the motors are failing, then the fans won’t be able to work as intended. This may be due to normal wear and tear across time. If the fan motor is tripping the breaker, then it may be due for a replacement. It is hard to tell without a thorough inspection from a licensed HVAC technician. Look for a reliable professional who can come over to check the problem and get a suitable solution.


4. Hard-Starting Air Conditioner Compressor

We have already discussed why the compressor is essential. Engineers do everything to prolong the life of this component and make it work as reliably as possible. However, sometimes it may act up and do things like hard starting. This means that the compressor finds it difficult to start, requiring greater energy to get going. This phenomenon may be enough to trip the breakers. Observe how long it takes before the AC unit switches on. One second is all it takes in most cases. If it sputters and takes longer, then you have identified the issue. This requires advanced solutions so don’t take chances. Get professional help right away.

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5. Loose Wiring & Aging Air Conditioner Parts

air conditioner wiring

Beyond the compressor, other parts of the system may experience degradation over time. The system wiring is a good example of this. There is a dizzying number of cables running across the house to transmit power and signals. Some of these may become loose with the years, resulting in faulty connections. Bare wires may touch each other even if they are not supposed to. The wires may also touch sensitive components such as the inside wall of the compressor, causing the circuit breaker to trip.

This is a complex problem that homeowners should not attempt to solve by themselves. Instead, they should call professionals for an exhaustive inspection and competent re-wiring. They might also find other parts of the system that require replacements.

6. Bad Air Conditioner Capacitor

Capacitors are responsible for getting the compressor started. If the compressor is having trouble starting, then the capacitor may try to pull a high amount of current during its attempts. This could trip the breaker if it breaches a certain threshold. The capacitor may also go bad after years of service. Once it is worn out, it will not be able to work as well as it should. Technicians will need to replace it as soon as they can. The capacitor can be found inside the outdoor AC unit. They will remove the metal cover to get access and install a compatible capacitor.

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7. Old or Weak Air Conditioner Compressor

Compressors perform at their best in freshly installed units. These can last for a decade or more under ideal conditions and consistent maintenance. However, even the best compressors eventually decline as they get older. At a certain point, the old HVAC unit may become too weak to start the cooling cycle. Attempts may lead to tripped breakers as the compressor draw excessive power. The compressor is the most expensive part of the air conditioner so replacing it requires careful consideration. Ask a technician to verify whether it is indeed the root cause and check if other solutions are available.


Is It Possible That the Air Conditioner Breaker Has Gone Bad?

Sometimes the problem does not lie inside the air conditioning unit. Perhaps the breaker is constantly tripping because the breaker itself has gone bad. Although this is a rare situation, it is a possibility that should be considered while troubleshooting. Breakers are made up of sturdy switches. However, those that are repeatedly tripping due to outside factors may gradually weaken. The next time they experience a stimulus, they might trip much easier than before. The best solution for this is to install new breakers that can perform in a more reliable manner.

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A tripping breaker is a symptom of several air conditioner problems. It can be difficult to determine the root cause by simply making basic observations. AC technicians can provide advanced troubleshooting and accurate diagnosis. They can explain what went wrong and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. With their help, you can quickly isolate the defective component and enjoy uninterrupted cooling.

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McAllister EnergyMcAllister Energy offers superior heating and cooling services in Camden County, New Jersey. We hire the best-certified technicians who can provide you with excellent HVAC tune-ups, repairs, installations, and replacements. Each of our techs has the knowledge and experience to service your HVAC system correctly.

McAllister Energy guarantees the most competitive heating and cooling service costs in the area. Our maintenance services can improve your comfort, increase your energy efficiency while reducing your home heating and cooling costs. If you happen to need an HVAC repair or replacement system, we can recommend the best one for your home while staying within your budget. We back all of our work with a guarantee to ensure your satisfaction. To schedule a service appointment, give McAllister Energy a call today. We offer free, in-home estimates.

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