If your air conditioner quits working unexpectedly, head to your home’s main breaker box to see if it’s tripping the breaker. If so, it’s a potentially-serious issue because breakers are essential safety devices that trip to halt the flow of electricity when an electrical circuit gets overloaded.
What to Do If Your A/C Trips the Breaker
First, touch the tripped breaker. If it feels hot, it likely needs replacement, so call a licensed electrician right away. If the breaker doesn’t feel any warmer than the adjacent ones, a spike in your A/Cs amp draw may have overloaded the circuit and caused it to trip.
There are a few possible reasons why an air conditioner draws extra amps and overloads its circuit. One that’s easy to troubleshoot is a badly-clogged air filter that has restricted vital airflow and overworked the A/C. If the filter is dirty, replace it then reset the air conditioner’s circuit breaker. If it trips a second time, leave it shut off and call your HVAC contractor to come out and check for other issues with the cooling system, such as:
- Dirty condenser coil. A buildup of dirt and debris on the outdoor condenser coil can inhibit proper heat transfer, which puts extra strain on the A/C and cause a rise in its amp draw.
- Low coolant level. The air conditioner has to work harder when the refrigerant level is too low, and this can increase its amp draw and make the breaker trip.
- Leaky compressor valves. Leaky valves can make the compressor struggle to pressurize the refrigerant, which can cause a spike in the amp draw, which overloads the electrical circuit.
- Faulty compressor capacitor. A bad capacitor can make the A/C draw extra amps as it tries to start up, so it trips the breaker when it does cycle on.
- Outdoor fan malfunction. A malfunctioning condenser fan can’t do an effective job of cooling the coil, so heat transfer is less effective which puts extra strain on the A/C.
If the A/C is tripping the breaker in your Coastal Bend home, contact us at CCAC for expert help.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Corpus Christi, Texas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 361-678-2495.