Air conditioners are constantly running in Northern California summers, and can cause the system to be over worked or over heat. In case you notice that the AC keeps switching off on its own from time to time, it is because the AC circuit breaker is tripping.
You may not give much thought to it and go reset the breaker, but constant tripping of the circuit breaker is indicative of a problem in the system, which should not be ignored.
What does the circuit breaker do?
The circuit breaker is meant to detect any overload on your system and switch off power supply to it in order to protect the equipment from damage. An overloaded circuit could also lead to a fire.
So, a circuit breaker is important in terms of fire safety as well as keeping your system from harm. If you find that the breaker is tripping often, seek immediate help from a technician to check what may be wrong with your system. Do not keep resetting the breaker and running the air conditioner as is.
What to do when the circuit breaker trips?
Before wondering about the causes for the circuit breaker tripping or thinking about an air conditioner inspection, it is imperative to shut down the system. Whether it is a problem in your HVAC system or the breaker tripped because of a power outage or lightning, switching off the system completely, waiting for some time and then switching it back on again will help you understand whether the tripping is a one time incident or recurring due to equipment malfunctions.
Why does the circuit breaker keep tripping and what can you do?
Some of the common possible causes for the circuit breaker to trip are as follows:
1. Power surge in your locality
This is a temporary cause, and shutting down the system and restarting it after about half an hour (also changing the thermostat setting to OFF and then back to COOL) can solve the problem.
2. Unclean air filters
If air filters are dirty and clogged, the fan motor has to work harder to draw air through the filters, which pulls too much electricity and can cause the circuit breaker to trip.
3. Dirty condenser coil
The condenser unit is located on the exterior of your house and hence gets dirty easily, also collecting dust, soot, leaves, and other debris. This can cause problems in heat transfer and result in the system working overtime, drawing more power and tripping the circuit breaker.
4. Loose or short wires
A loose wire or a failed capacitor can cause the breaker to trip. An electrician can inspect and fix the issue for you.
5. Refrigerant leak
As the level of refrigerant drops, due to a leak, the system has to work harder to cool the air, which can put strain on it.
6. Fan motor malfunction
If the fan blades are unclean, they may run slower, causing pressure on the motor. A malfunctioning motor, can trip the circuit breaker too.