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Central Air Tripping A Circuit Breaker? What You Should Know

by April Rivera

Of the many problems that can occur with a central air conditioning system, one that is often the most baffling to homeowners is when the central air unit repeatedly trips a circuit breaker. While your first instinct may be to think that there's an electrical problem, that may actually not be the case. Here's what you need to know about your air conditioning system and tripped circuit breakers.

What Causes The Circuit Breaker To Trip?

Understanding what can cause a circuit breaker to trip is the first step toward determining if the problem is electrical in nature or due to a malfunction with your air conditioning system. In most cases, a circuit breaker will trip either due to a short in the circuit or because there's too much power draw coming through that circuit at once.

A short in the circuit will, in fact, require the services of an electrician. However, before you make that call, make sure that your air conditioning system isn't drawing excess power through the circuit and causing it to trip.

How Can The Air Conditioner Trip The Breaker?

Central air conditioning units require a lot of power when they initially power on. However, most household circuits are built to successfully handle that power draw. If, however, your air conditioner is malfunctioning, it could inadvertently be drawing more power than it really should.

For example, if the air filter on your central air unit is dirty and clogged, the low airflow caused by this blockage can lead to your central air system working much harder to draw air in and cool it. As a result, the increased power draw necessary to compensate for the debris blocking the system may be tripping the breaker.

Additionally, if the coil inside the condenser is dirty, or hasn't been cleaned in a while, it may not be efficiently cooling the air. If the unit has to work harder to cool the air that's coming in, that can also lead to an excessive draw on your circuit and a subsequent tripped breaker.

These two problems are easy to correct. You can replace the air filter and clean the coil to see if it resolves the problem. If it doesn't, the cause could be something more serious. Issues such as motor damage and low refrigerant can also cause tripped breakers, and these are problems that should be diagnosed and repaired by a licensed HVAC technician.

Contact a company near you that offers air conditioning services to have your unit assessed in order to determine why your breakers are tripping.