What To Do When Your Outside AC Unit Keeps Tripping Your Breaker

image of a homeowner at electrical panal checking air conditioner circuit

Problems related to electricity can be difficult because they stop your air conditioning system from working. People want to chill inside their homes when the temperatures are soaring outside. Problems such as the outside AC unit tripping breaker are definitely not welcome. Situations like this only result in frustration and discomfort, especially since homeowners might not really know the reason behind the issue. Read on to learn more about this topic. You can also consult an HVAC technician for immediate assistance.

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Outside AC Unit Keeps Tripping The Circuit Breaker

The outdoor unit of your air conditioner includes the compressor. It is the most crucial component of your cooling system. It helps with the refrigerant’s circulation, enabling it to absorb indoor heat to be released outdoors. This way, your home gets a little cooler after each cycle until the thermostat setting is reached and the air conditioner turns off on its own. The compressor needs a considerable amount of power to do its job. It won’t be able to receive power if the breaker trips. As a result, it won’t be able to run. Therefore, this situation must have the homeowner’s full attention.

Why Do Air Conditioner Breakers Trip?

Many reasons can cause your circuit breaker to trip. Keep in mind that it is a protective mechanism that automatically activates in potentially dangerous incidents. Breakers trip to protect your air conditioning system from damage caused by current surges and short circuits.

When the breaker trips, it interrupts the current flow, so there is a reduced risk of fire, and the connected equipment is kept safe. Electrical systems used to have a fuse that needed replacing after a single use before breakers were invented. Fortunately, circuit breakers aren’t as fragile. They can be reset, and normal operations will resume. However, resets may not be enough if the breaker trips often. If so, the following needs to be further investigated:

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Dirty Air Conditioner Air Filter

image of a dirty air conditioner filter causing ac tripping breaker

Check the air conditioner’s state before the breaker tripped. If the problem reoccurs, check the system’s temperature. Dirty air filters can cause overheating. The airflow cannot smoothly pass through because of clogged air passages. Without fresh air, the system cannot cool down, so the heat builds up until the system cannot run safely.

Dirty filters also cause your air conditioner’s efficiency and performance to drop. You may feel the difference. Therefore, reusable filters should be cleaned every few months. Disposable HVAC air filters should be checked monthly and replaced when they are dirty. The exact schedule depends on the outdoor pollution level and frequency of use.

Dirty Air Conditioner Condenser Coils

The condenser coils may get dirty as well because of the dirt, dust, and other pollutants in the air. The layer of dirt can get so thick that it becomes insulation. As a result, the coils cannot expel the heat outside. The system may still work, but it will consume more energy than it usually does to cool your home. The worst-case scenario is that the air conditioner suffers from an electrical short that overheats the system. Therefore, it is recommended that you conduct periodical checks on the coil and clean them as needed. Cleaning is included in the yearly maintenance that HVAC companies offer. All you need to do is call them to schedule an annual HVAC tune-up.

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Broken Coil Fan

Air conditioning units contain coil fans that are crucial for cooling. The motors are typically placed outdoors. It generates wind when the blades spin, which removes the heat from the coils. Motor failure means the fans won’t run as they should. This can be caused by normal wear and tear over time. A fan motor that’s tripping the breaker may need replacing. It isn’t easy to tell, so have a licensed HVAC professional inspect it. Make sure to hire a reliable HVAC technician to check and resolve the problem.


Hard-Starting Compressor

As previously mentioned, the compressor is essential. Engineers do what they can to extend the service life of the compressor and make it work reliably. However, it may not work as it should sometimes, and problems like hard-starting may crop up. Hard-starting is when the compressor has difficulty starting and needs a lot of energy to get going. This issue may cause the breakers to trip.

Determine how long it takes for the air conditioner to turn on. In most cases, it only takes one second. If the air conditioner sputters and takes longer than a second, then you know what’s the issue. This needs advanced solutions from a professional so call an HVAC expert immediately.

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Loose Wiring & Aging A/C Parts

air conditioner wiring

Aside from the compressor, other components may also degrade as time passes. A good example of such is the air conditioner’s wiring. Numerous cables are running across your house, transmitting power and signals. Several wires may have become loose over the years, causing faulty connections. Bare wires may also touch each other when they aren’t supposed to. They may also be touching sensitive air conditioner parts like the compressor’s inside wall, causing the breaker to trip.

Homeowners should never attempt a DIY repair on a complex issue such as loose wirings. Call a professional instead. They will conduct a thorough inspection and proficient re-wiring. They may also spot other system components that need replacing.

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Bad Air Conditioner Capacitor

The compressor starts thanks to the capacitor. The capacitor may attempt to pull a significant amount of energy if the compressor has a hard time starting. The breaker will then trip if the specific threshold is breached. The capacitor may also deteriorate after years of service, so it will not work as well as it used to. Technicians need to replace the capacitor right away. This component is in the outdoor air conditioner unit, so the metal cover needs to be removed to access it and install a compatible replacement.

Old or Weak Air Conditioner Compressor

Older style air conditioner system

Compressors work at their peak when in freshly installed units. They can last for ten years or more with regular maintenance and under ideal conditions. However, the best compressors can decline in performance as they get older, just like all HVAC systems. They may eventually become too weak to initiate the cooling cycle. Attempts to do so can cause the breakers to trip because the compressor draws too much power. The compressor is the air conditioner’s costliest component, so it needs careful consideration during an HVAC replacement. Consult an HVAC professional if it is causing the problem and check if other solutions are available.

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Is It Possible That the Conditioner Breaker Has Gone Bad?

There are times when the air conditioner doesn’t cause the breaker to trip. The breaker may constantly be tripping because the circuit breaker is faulty. This doesn’t happen often, but it can still happen, so consider it when troubleshooting. Breakers consist of sturdy switches, but they can gradually weaken when they repeatedly trip because of outside factors. The next time they are triggered, circuits may trip easier than before. The best solution is to replace it with new breakers that work more reliably.



A circuit breaker that constantly trips is a sign of a problem with your air conditioner. It can be hard to pinpoint the exact cause with simple observations. HVAC technicians offer advanced troubleshooting and correct HVAC diagnosis. They can tell you what went wrong and what you can do so it doesn’t reoccur. You can quickly isolate the defective part and enjoy uninterrupted cooling with professional assistance.

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When you need superior HVAC services in the Poconos and the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, call R.F. Ohl immediately. We have only the best professionally certified technicians on staff, so you can be sure to receive high-quality heating and cooling repairs, tune-ups, replacements, and installations. All our friendly techs have the knowledge and experience to service your HVAC system correctly.

Our company guarantees highly competitive heating and cooling service rates in the locality. Our maintenance services help improve your energy efficiency and comfort while reducing your energy bills. We can recommend the best solutions for your HVAC repair or replacement system needs while staying within your budget. All our work comes with a guarantee to ensure your satisfaction. Book a service appointment and call R.F. Ohl today. We offer free, in-home estimates.

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