An HVAC system is always on an independent 240-volt circuit that only powers the system and nothing else. Any time your AC draws too much electricity and overloads the circuit for any reason, the circuit breaker will immediately trip so no more power flows through the circuit. This is important for preventing a possible fire. It also protects the system as all of the extra power flowing through the circuit could cause major damage if the breaker didn’t trip.
Your AC system can trip the circuit breaker for a variety of different issues. Sometimes this happens simply because there was a power surge in the electrical grid, in which case your AC should work just fine once the breaker is reset. No matter what issue led to the circuit overloading, there are a few steps you should take before you reset the breaker and turn your AC back on.
Replace the AC Air Filter
If you haven’t done it recently, it’s a good idea to first replace the AC filter. A dirty, clogged air filter is one of the more common issues that can cause an AC system to work extra hard. A clogged filter restricts how much air the AC blower can pull into the system, which results in additional stress on the system. When the blower works harder, it can start to draw more power potentially overloading the circuit and causing the breaker to trip.
Turn the Thermostat Off to Reset
Make sure to switch your thermostat to “Off” before you try to reset the breaker. If you were to leave your AC switched on at the thermostat, the circuit breaker will usually trip again as soon as the system tries to turn on. Most AC systems have an internal circuit breaker that also needs to reset before you try to turn the system back on. This can often take 10 to 20 minutes so you’ll always want to wait some time before switching the AC back on after resetting the circuit breaker.
Reset the Circuit Breaker and Wait
Once you’ve made sure that the AC is switched off at the thermostat, you can then flip the breaker back on to reset the circuit. At this point, you’ll want to wait at least 30 minutes before switching the AC back on. Again, this is important for ensuring that the system’s internal breaker has ample time to reset itself.
Call for an Inspection
If the breaker immediately trips when your AC attempts to restart, you’ll want to leave it off and immediately call for a professional inspection. The same is true if your AC runs normally for a while and then eventually trips the breaker again. It is important that you don’t keep trying to reset the breaker as this can endanger your safety and your AC system. The system could suffer serious damage or get completely fried and force you to replace your AC condenser and/or blower. Continually trying to reset the breaker can also be a serious fire hazard since the system could have an electrical issue like a short circuit that is causing the breaker to trip.
In addition to electrical issues, the breaker can also trip due to several other issues such as a dirty condenser coil. When the condenser coil is dirty and coated in dust, the system can’t properly release all of the heat it removed from your home. This puts lots of additional strain on the condenser and can lead to it drawing more electricity and overloading the circuit. A refrigerant leak in the condenser coil or evaporator coil will also lead to the system not cooling effectively causing it to work harder, run longer and potentially draw much more power.
The compressor or fan motor in the condenser unit can also draw too much power if it malfunctions or wears out. The same can happen if the blower motor has any issues or is overly dirty and has to struggle to pull air into the system. None of these issues are something that you’ll be able to diagnose or fix on your own so you’ll want to have your AC inspected as soon as possible any time it starts tripping the breaker.
Contact the Pros
At Controlled Climate Services, our technicians specialize in all types of AC repairs and we can quickly determine why your system is tripping the breaker and what can be done about it. We also offer professional AC maintenance, which can help you avoid almost all issues that can cause your system to overload the circuit. This issue can also mean that your condenser is failing, in which case we can also help with AC replacement. Contact us today if you need an AC inspection or any other HVAC service in the Kennesaw area. We offer heating and cooling services, mini-splits, smart thermostats, indoor air quality services and commercial refrigeration.