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Why Your AC May Be Tripping the Circuit Breaker

The electrical panel in a home does the important job of shutting down electrical circuits when there’s too much electrical draw from one of the appliances, such as the air conditioner. If your air conditioning system suddenly stops working completely, one of the first things you should do is check the electrical panel to see if the AC’s circuit breaker has tripped. Resetting the breaker will usually solve the problem.

But what if your AC keeps tripping the circuit breaker? If this is the case, something’s wrong. It might be an issue with loose wires in the electrical panel, which will need an electrician to repair. But it could be an issue with the air conditioner itself that’s causing it to pull in more amps than it is supposed to. Here are some reasons that an AC can cause a tripped circuit breaker:

The outdoor cabinet and coil are dirty

If the outdoor cabinet and coil are dirty, it makes it harder for the air conditioner to release heat to the outside. This will soon lead to an overworked air conditioner that will draw too many amps and cause the breaker to trip. You can’t clean the cabinet on your own, since this job requires special chemical cleaners for the coil.

A short in a motor

There are multiple motors operating inside an air conditioner. Too much strain on any of these motors will cause them to overheat and melt the insulation along their wires. This allows current to leap between the wires—a “short”—that can threaten an electrical fire. The circuit breaker will trip to prevent this.

Grounded compressor

This is the most serious problem: broken wiring in the compressor allowing the electrical current to leap to the ground. This will ignite the oil in the compressor and cause a burnout. The power surge from the grounding will also trip the circuit breaker. Most of the time, the compressor will need to be replaced.

Don’t attempt to fix a malfunctioning air conditioner on your own! Let Comfort Flow Heating in Eugene, OR handle any electrical problems your AC may have.

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