Power-related issues can be highly frustrating, especially when your air conditioner shuts down completely. During hot weather, the last thing you want is to be left without a cooling system in your home. Instances like an outside AC unit tripping breaker can cause discomfort and confusion, leaving homeowners in the dark about what’s happening. In this article, we aim to clarify this matter and offer insights into how to address it. If you need immediate assistance, HVAC technicians are readily available to help resolve any power-related problems with your air conditioner.
Outside AC Unit Tripping Breaker: What To Do
- 1 Outside AC Unit Tripping Breaker: What To Do
- 2 Why Air Conditioner Breakers Trip
- 3 Is It Possible That The Air Conditioner Breaker Has Gone Bad?
- 4 Call PFO Heating & Air Conditioning For All Of Your HVAC Requirements
The outside AC unit plays a crucial role when cooling your home. It houses the compressor, the heart of the entire system. The compressor is responsible for circulating the AC refrigerant, which absorbs heat from indoors and releases it outside, gradually cooling down the home with each cycle. However, the compressor requires a significant amount of energy to operate effectively. If the breakers trip and power is cut off, the compressor cannot function properly. This situation demands the immediate attention of homeowners, considering the compressor’s vital role in the cooling process.
Why Air Conditioner Breakers Trip
Numerous factors can cause a circuit breaker to trip. It is essential to understand that tripping protects the electrical system from potential hazards such as short circuits and excessive current surges. By interrupting the flow of electricity, circuit breakers help prevent fires and safeguard connected devices. Unlike traditional fuses that need to be replaced after a single use, circuit breakers can be reset to restore normal operations. However, if the breaker continues to trip frequently, it indicates a deeper issue that requires further investigation. Some of the factors for an air conditioner that keeps tripping the breaker include:
1. Dirty HVAC Air Filter
What condition is the air conditioner in just before the circuit breaker trips? If the issue persists, check the temperature of the unit. Overheating is often a result of dirty air filters, which obstruct the airflow due to clogged passages. When fresh air can’t effectively cool down the system, heat accumulates, eventually causing the system to shut off for safety reasons.
In addition to causing tripped breakers, dirty filters can also reduce the efficiency and performance of the air conditioner. You may notice a difference in the cooling ability of the system. To prevent this, reusable filters should be cleaned regularly, typically every few months, depending on usage and the level of outdoor pollution.
2. Dirty AC Condenser Coils
In addition to the air filters, the condenser coils can also become dirty due to airborne dust and pollutants. As these particles accumulate, they form a layer of insulation on the coils, preventing them from effectively expelling heat outdoors. In extreme cases, this buildup can lead to electrical shorts and system overheating. Even in less severe situations, the air conditioner may still operate with increased energy consumption as it struggles to cool the house.
Check the coils and clean them regularly before they become a problem. Professional HVAC companies offer annual tune-up services that include coil cleaning. Contact them and schedule a visit to ensure the coils are maintained and operating optimally.
3. Broken Air Conditioner Coil Fan
The coil fans inside the air conditioner play a crucial role in the cooling process. Typically, the motors that power these fans are located outdoors. As the fan blades spin, they generate airflow that helps remove heat from the coils. However, the motor may experience wear and tear over time, leading to potential issues. If the fan motor is causing the breaker to trip, it could be a sign that it needs to be replaced. To accurately diagnose and address the problem, seek the expertise of a licensed HVAC technician. They can thoroughly inspect and provide a suitable solution for the issue at hand.
Related Article: Top 7 Things You Should Never Do To Your AC Unit
4. Hard-Starting Air Conditioning Compressor
The air conditioner compressor plays a crucial role in the smooth operation of the air conditioning system. Engineers strive to maximize their lifespan and ensure reliable performance. However, there are instances when the compressor encounters difficulties during startup, known as hard starting. This means that it requires more energy than usual to initiate the operation. In some cases, this increased power demand can trip the breakers. Pay close attention to the time it takes for the AC unit to switch on. Typically, it should take just a second. If you notice sputtering and longer startup times, it indicates a problem. Given the complexity of addressing this issue, seek professional assistance promptly and avoid taking any risks.
5. Loose Cooling System Wiring & Aging Components
In addition to the compressor, various air conditioning system components can deteriorate over time. One such component is the system wiring, consisting of numerous cables throughout the house to transmit power and signals. Some wires may become loose as the system ages, leading to faulty connections. In some cases, bare wires may even come into contact with each other or sensitive components like the inside wall of the compressor, resulting in circuit breaker tripping.
Addressing this complex issue requires the expertise of professionals. Homeowners should refrain from attempting to solve it themselves and instead seek the assistance of qualified technicians who can conduct a thorough inspection and do the necessary rewiring. During the inspection, they may also identify other parts of the system that require replacements, ensuring the proper functioning of the AC system.
Related Article: Air Conditioner Makes Loud Noise When Starting
6. Bad Air Conditioner Capacitor
Capacitors play a crucial role in initiating the compressor’s startup process. When the compressor encounters difficulties starting, the capacitor may attempt to draw a high amount of current during its activation attempts. If this current surpasses a specific threshold, the circuit breaker can trip. Over time, capacitors may also deteriorate and lose their effectiveness. Once a capacitor becomes worn out, its performance diminishes. HVAC technicians will need to replace it with a new one promptly. The capacitor is typically located inside the outdoor AC unit, and technicians will remove the metal cover to gain access and install a compatible replacement.
7. Old or Weak Air Conditioner Compressor
Newly installed air conditioning units feature compressors that perform optimally. These compressors can last a decade or more with proper maintenance and ideal conditions. However, as compressors age, their performance gradually declines. Eventually, they may become too weak to initiate the cooling cycle effectively. Attempts to start the compressor result in tripped breakers due to excessive power draw, indicating a potential problem. As the compressor is the most costly component of the air conditioner, replacing it requires careful consideration. Consult with a technician to verify if the compressor is indeed the root cause and explore alternative solutions, if available.
Is It Possible That The Air Conditioner Breaker Has Gone Bad?
Occasionally, the cause of a constantly tripping breaker may not be within the air conditioning unit. Consider the possibility that the breaker has become faulty. Although this is uncommon, it is worth considering during the troubleshooting process. Breakers consist of durable switches, but repeated tripping caused by external factors can gradually weaken them. They may trip more quickly when exposed to any stimulation. The best solution is to replace the breakers with new ones that offer a more reliable performance.
When faced with a tripping breaker in your air conditioner, it can be challenging to identify the underlying issue through basic observations alone. However, AC technicians specialize in advanced troubleshooting and precisely diagnosing such problems. By seeking their expertise, they can thoroughly analyze the situation, explain the cause of the problem, and recommend effective preventive measures. With their assistance, you can swiftly pinpoint the faulty component and ensure uninterrupted cooling in your home.
Related Article: Reasons To Avoid Closing Registers For Temperature Control
Call PFO Heating & Air Conditioning For All Of Your HVAC Requirements
PFO Heating & Air Conditioning proudly offers exceptional heating and cooling services throughout the Greater Princeton, NJ area. Our team of highly-trained and qualified technicians is certified and experienced in providing top-notch HVAC tune-ups, repairs, installations, and replacements. We are proud to provide our customers with accurate and reliable solutions.
PFO Heating & Air Conditioning is committed to providing cost-effective heating and cooling services that meet the highest quality standards. Our maintenance services are designed to enhance comfort and energy efficiency. Should you require an HVAC repair or a replacement system, our knowledgeable team will guide you in selecting the best option while working within your budget.
We stand behind our work and offer a satisfaction guarantee. To schedule a service appointment, contact PFO Heating & Air Conditioning today. We also offer free in-home estimates for your convenience. Call now!