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Picture this scenario: You’re sitting at home enjoying a leisurely summer afternoon when the thermostat triggers the air conditioner to turn on. Perfect timing—you were just beginning to feel a little overheated.

A few moments into the cycle, the AC shuts off again, seemingly without the thermostat triggering it. You’re not sure what happened, but you decide to check the circuit breaker. Good call—it looks like the AC tripped a breaker. You reset it, thinking all is well, but it doesn’t take long for the AC to trip the circuit breaker again. What’s going on?

The purpose of a circuit breaker is to protect your home’s wiring from overcurrents that could damage electrical equipment or even start a fire. If a device pulls more power than the circuit is rated for, the breaker trips. This suggests that the AC is acting up or something is wrong with the wiring. Explore these six common causes of an air conditioner tripping the breaker so you can get to the root of the problem.

  1. Dirty air filter: Forgetting to change the air filter can restrict the airflow. This forces the air conditioner to work harder, increasing the power draw and possibly tripping the breaker.
  2. Dirty condensing unit: The outside unit disperses heat that the refrigerant picked up from inside your house. Unfortunately, a dirty condensing coil interrupts the heat transfer process. This forces the AC to work harder until—click—the breaker trips due to drawing too much current.
  3. Compressor hard start: Every cooling system component should start up in about one second. However, an aging compressor may have trouble overcoming the pressure difference inside it, a problem known as hard starting, and end up pulling more electricity than usual. Because the compressor is the most expensive part of an air conditioner, the best fix is usually to replace the entire AC unit.
  4. Shorted-out motor: If the AC motor runs too hot for too long, it can melt the wire insulation, leading to a short that overheats the wires and causes a tripped circuit breaker.
  5. Grounded compressor: The electrical wires in your air conditioner can loosen and degrade over time. If a loose wire inside the compressor hits the metal side, it creates a direct line to the ground. The circuit breaker trips due to the sudden change in current.
  6. Damaged circuit breaker: Sometimes, the air conditioner isn’t to blame for tripping the circuit breaker. Instead, the breaker itself could be faulty. Luckily, replacing it is a relatively inexpensive fix.

At Parley’s PPM Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, our team can diagnose why your AC is tripping the circuit breaker and perform the necessary air conditioner repair. We have over 40 years of experience and focus on providing unparalleled service to every customer every time. To schedule a visit, please call 801-226-3033 if you live in Utah County, or reach us at 801-229-2665 if you’re a Salt Lake County resident. You can also contact us online with any questions you have.

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