Is Your AC Causing Your Circuit Breaker To Trip? Why It Happens And How To Deal With It

Is your air conditioner tripping your circuit breaker?  This might happen as soon as you turn on the air conditioner, or after having it run for a while. In addition to the air conditioner turning off when the break is tripped, other things that are plugged in will go off as well. There are many reasons this can happen.

Once Every So Often, Or Frequently

Does your AC trip the breaker occasionally? Or is it a frequent occurrence? If it occurs once, or every so often, then you can probably pinpoint the exact reason. Maybe you're running another appliance that you don't run regularly. Maybe you plugged in something new while the air conditioner was already running.

These kinds of issues have less to do with your AC and more to do with your own home wiring and electrical capacities. There are three reasons a breaker will trip.

  • Overloaded circuitry (more current than the circuit can handle)
  • Electrical shorting (touching wires or broken/damaged wires)
  • Grounding fault (wire touching ground wire or touching metal connected to ground wire)

If you trip a breaker when you turn on your air conditioner, then there are HVAC related reasons for the breaker tripping. If the circuit breaker trips more frequently, then you should not reset it.

The breaker represents a warning that something is wrong. If it trips, and then trips again right after you reset it, then leave it off. Continuing to reset can cause damage to the breaker, blow the fuse, or cause other damage.

What Can Cause Your AC to Trip a Breaker?

An AC can trip a breaker if it's overheating. When your AC overheats, it can shut off. If it doesn't, then it will draw in more electricity to operate at hotter temperatures. When it starts eating those extra amps, the circuit breaker will trip to prevent damage. But what's causing your AC to heat up? There are several factors that could contribute to the problem:

  • Dirty air filters
  • Low refrigerant
  • Damaged wiring
  • Faulty compressor
  • Dirty condenser coils

There are also things that can happen with other internal components of your AC that can lead to it tripping the breaker. Occasionally, the fault may lie with the circuit breaker itself.

A few of these things you can check out yourself, but you have to show care. For one, when investigating, you should leave the breaker switch tripped. Don't turn the power back on until you're done having a look.

You can certainly do something about dirty air filters and dirty coils. For anything beyond that, you should consult a professional. Dealing with refrigerant leaks, internal AC components, or faulty wiring are not things that layman should attempt. Contact an air conditioner repair contractor to come and take a look at your HVAC system.