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Why Does My AC Trip The Breaker?

After the moment of panic when your AC trips the circuit breaker, take a deep breath. The good news is that you can probably fix the problem yourself. Air conditioners can trip circuit breakers for a variety of reasons, and only in a few cases will you need the help of a professional HVAC technician.

First, let’s remind ourselves of why circuit breakers trip. Breakers provide safety to your home, appliances and electrical system by preventing fires and electrical damage. If too much power flows through the circuit, the breaker trips to shut things off. In other words, the breaker is just doing its job when its turns off your AC.

AC units trip breakers when overheated or malfunctioning. The tripped breaker tells you that the air conditioner has a problem.

Why Your AC Trips the Breaker

Before you get too worried that your air conditioner is broken, look for some of the more common reasons that the circuit breaker might have tripped. Cleaning and maintenance usually solve the problem quickly and easily.

  • Dirty filters make the AC work harder and heat up. Consider this your wake-up call to change the filter more often! Before anything else, see if the filter is dirty and replace it. It’s probably time to change the filter anyway.
  • Condenser coils get dirty, too. Carefully remove any leaves and junk trapped inside the AC unit and hose down the coils. Dirty coils trap heat instead of letting the exhaust blow away as it should.
  • Low refrigerant makes the AC run longer and harder to reach the thermostat’s temperature. HVAC technicians can top up the refrigerant and check for a leak.
  • Electrical components will fail eventually, especially with heavy use or when exposed to weather damage. Take a look at the wiring connections to see if things look old or beat up.

Of course, you may also have an electrical problem not directly related to the AC system. Try resetting the circuit breaker to see if the AC stays on this time. (Note: only reset the breaker once — if it keeps tripping, stop and call a professional. Continuously resetting the breaker risks damage to your AC unit and creates a fire risk).

If the AC unit turns off very soon after resetting the breaker, there may be an electrical problem. If the AC runs for a while but the breaker trips again, overheating due to the above issues is more likely.

DIY Fixes and When to Call a Professional

Anyone can change the filter and clean the AC unit, unless it’s in a difficult location. Otherwise, the fastest and easiest solution is to bring in HVAC professionals. This way you’ll know that your AC unit is running efficiently and safely, and any damaged parts will get replaced.

Schedule Professional Help Today

Need help ending the headache of an AC that keeps tripping the breaker? Call Dynamic Air Services for fast, helpful and reliable HVAC service in Orange County and throughout Southern California.

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