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If you’re experiencing electricity issues with your heating and cooling system, especially circuit breaker problems, there can be a number of reasons why it’s happening. HVAC units are extremely complex appliances with many working parts.

When something goes wrong, it can be hard to tell what unit or part needs repair or replacement. But not for the certified technicians at Action Air Conditioning.

This blog will give you the most common answers to the question, “Why does my AC keep tripping the circuit breaker?” Let’s start with some simple ones you can identify.

1. Forgotten Homeowner Maintenance

why does my ac keep tripping the circuit breaker - circuit breaker switchesYou can’t remember everything, right? You run a busy life! 

Well, if you covered your outdoor HVAC unit to protect it during a severe storm or hurricane and forgot to take off the cover, it can cause the circuit breaker to trip. 

Even if you didn’t cover it, but a stray garbage bag flew over and stuck to the side or top, it can suffocate the unit and cause it to overheat. An abundance of leaves or debris can cause the same results. 

When your circuit breaker trips, it’s always a good idea to go outside and look around your condenser unit to make sure that all sides are free and clear of objects. 

If the outdoor unit is good, go inside and check your furnace or air handler. Pull out the filter and see if it is clean. Even if you changed it recently, house cleaning, home improvement projects, or shedding pets can throw a lot of particles in the air that can clog it up fast.

Airflow is reduced when your filter catches too much. This causes the air handler to work harder to draw air through the system and will trip the breaker. 

Try changing your furnace or air handler filter and see if that solves the problem. 

2. Dirty Condenser Coil Fins

Even if the outside of your HVAC system looks clean, the inside could be filthy. Especially after hurricane season, your condenser coil fins can be covered! It may not seem like a big deal, but it is. 

When your condenser coils are blocked by debris, it can raise “amp drop,” which means the amount of electricity your HVAC needs to start up and run increases. Since it requires more energy to run, not only does its energy consumption rise (along with your electricity bill), but it can also trip the circuit breaker. 

If you choose to clean them yourself with a low-pressure hose and pure water, you run the risk of damaging the fins and electrocution. Always shut off the power to your HVAC system through the circuit breaker before touching the inside of your HVAC system, and proceed with caution.

As always, we recommend that you hire a certified professional to handle your HVAC system for your safety and the life of your unit. 

If your condenser coil fins are dirty, don’t fret. You can easily schedule an AC tune-up with Action Air Conditioning. A certified technician will come out to your property to test, clean, and adjust your unit, making sure it is running efficiently again. 

3. Damaged or Corroded Wires

Is your HVAC unit old? Did small animals nest inside? Inside the outdoor unit is a bunch of wires, and if any of those wires is stripped of its protective insulation or jacket, it spells bad news.

Once that protective layer is gone, the wire is exposed to the elements. Since wire is made from easily corroded metals, without that layer of protection, it will begin to deteriorate. When the wire is compromised, so is the electricity running through it. This can cause inconsistencies and surges in the power that will trip the breaker.

Wires are also hanging around a lot of other metal surfaces. And we all know what happens when a wire touches metal. 

Nothing good.

When your surge protector senses a disturbance in the electrical currents, it trips the breaker.

If you suspect that you have damaged or corroded wires tripping your breaker, it’s important that you have the wiring replaced right away. Bad wires can cause a fire or electrocute someone that touches the unit. Especially if you haven’t cleaned the inside of your condenser unit in a while, dead leaves, grass clippings, and other debris can be trapped inside and catch fire. 

4. Wrong Refrigerant Levels

If your refrigerant (a.k.a. coolant) levels are too high or low, it can result in your circuit breaker tripping. This happens most frequently when

  • there is a leak
  • or if someone who is not qualified to service an air conditioner adds too much refrigerant to the unit.

The coolant in your HVAC system needs to be precise to balance the pressure inside the central AC equipment. If those levels are skewed due to a hole in the line, the HVAC system can overheat and trip your breaker.

If a novice adds more refrigerant than they should, it can stress the compressor. A professional will take careful measurements of your system’s current pressure to determine how much is needed for it to run efficiently and put a precise amount into your unit.

If you suspect that your AC refrigerant levels need to be adjusted and you live in the Tampa Bay area, get in touch with the experts at Action Air Conditioning right away. Coolant is safe when it is contained in your system, but if you have a leak, it is a serious safety hazard and requires immediate attention.   

5. Start-Up Drawing Too Much Power

Do your lights dim and come back when your AC turns on? If so, the amp draw when your AC starts up could be too strong. 

The amperage of your HVAC at start-up can be up to 3 times stronger than when it’s happily whirring and running throughout the day. That’s normal. But when your outdoor unit is dirty, or your HVAC is too large and powerful, sometimes the amperage is more than your house can handle, and the breakers trip.

Luckily, if you are experiencing this problem, there are a number of simple solutions (depending on what is causing the problem). Get in touch with Action Air Conditioning and speak with one of our friendly representatives to discover how!

6. Shorted Out Compressor

Your compressor is located outside your outdoor condenser unit. This part is responsible for pressurizing refrigerant in order to return it from a hot gassy state to a cool liquid state before it travels indoors to flow through the evaporator coils. 

As heat is transferred away, the blower fan helps to remove some of that warmth. This is why you feel a gust of hot air coming from the machine.

If your AC trips the circuit breaker frequently, call the experts at Action Air Conditioning in Tampa Bay to check it out. After shutting off the electricity to the unit, we will

  • unscrew the top
  • remove the blower fan
  • and use a clamp meter to test the wires. 

Another way to double-check if your compressor is indeed the culprit is to disconnect the compressor from an electrical source and see if your AC runs without tripping the circuit breaker. Then, after reconnecting the wires, monitor it to confirm that the compressor trips the circuit breaker again. 

Unfortunately, a shorted-out compressor is the most common reason why your AC is tripping the circuit breaker. This is also the worst possible situation. In the event that your compressor is shorted to the ground, you’ll need a replacement compressor or a new outdoor unit. 

“Why Does My AC Keep Tripping the Circuit Breaker?” Find Certified AC Repair in Tampa Bay, Florida

You have a home or business in the Tampa Bay Area, and you’re asking yourself, “Why does my AC keep tripping my breakers?” That’s when it is time to reach out to Action Air Conditioning for a diagnosis. We can come out right away to troubleshoot the problem and have your AC running again in no time!

But don’t wait until your AC stops working. Be sure to make an appointment for an HVAC Tune-up every Spring and Fall to ensure that your system runs smoothly all year round.

Living in Florida, you know that your AC is crucial to your comfort. That’s why it is important to take care of it. Scheduling regular HVAC maintenance with heating and cooling professionals twice a year. If you do, you can prevent common problems and repairs, including many of the ones listed above.