What to do if your air conditioner starts having a problem, like if the outside AC unit trips the breaker? Problems with the power can be frustrating because they can stop the air conditioner from working at all. This article tells you how to fix an outside air conditioner unit that keeps tripping the circuit breaker.
A compressor is part of the AC system outside. This is the most important part of the cooling unit as a whole. This part is responsible for the cooling function of the AC unit. For the compressor to do this job, it needs quite a bit of power. If a circuit breaker trips, the AC compressor won’t get power and won’t work.
What Makes an Outside AC Unit Trips the Breaker?
Sometimes, you may find that your outside ac unit is tripping the breaker. First, you need to understand what a circuit breaker does.
The circuit breaker is a safety feature that kicks in automatically when the unit is broken or in at-risk condition. Breakers trip on their own to protect the unit from damage caused by things like power surges in current and short circuits.
When breakers trip, they stop the flow of electricity, which makes it less likely that the unit will catch fire. They can be reset and will work just as well as they did before.
Here are some of the most common reasons why breakers trip.
Dirty Air Filter
When your AC filter is dirty, it stops air from going through the blower, so the blower has to work harder and for longer to get any air through the filter. This makes it use more electricity, which can trip the breaker. All you have to do to fix it is change the filter.
Every air conditioner has a unit inside and a unit outside. Your inside unit uses the refrigerant in its system to take the heat out of your air. This coolant goes to the outdoor unit to get rid of the heat. But if the outside unit is dirty, it won’t spread the heat as well as it could. Dirt is an insulator, so the AC runs until it can’t get any more heat out unless the breaker trips.
You may need to call an AC technician to help you clean the outside unit. They use special chemicals and tools that won’t hurt your unit, so don’t try to do it yourself.
Problems with the Circuit Breaker
Your air conditioner might work fine, but the circuit breaker might not. If the wires that go to the breaker come loose or if the breaker is just old, there is work to be done. The good news is that this doesn’t cost much to fix. Just have a technician tighten the connections to the AC’s breaker or replace the breaker altogether.
The electric motors in your air conditioner run for hours at a time, and they often take a lot of abuse over time. When the motors run too hot for too long, the insulation on the wires can break down, which is a problem.
This causes a short circuit, which is when the electricity goes around the way it is supposed to go. The shortcut lets more electricity flow through the wires than they can handle. This causes the wires to get too hot, melt, and start a fire. The circuit breaker will trip before a fire can start.
The best way to find out if the motors have shorted is to call an AC technician and have them come look at your system.
Problems with the AC Compressor
The compressor is the most important part of your AC system, and this part needs a lot of power. The problem is that as this compressor gets older, it gets harder to start and needs even more power. Because of this, the circuit breaker will trip.
The electrical wiring inside an AC compressor that has broken and damaged the side of the compressor is called a “grounded compressor.” This causes a short to ground, which starts the oil on fire and causes the engine to burn out. The circuit breaker is also tripped by the sudden surge of electricity.
This is the worst possible cause of the outside ac unit tripping breaker because the technician will have to replace the compressor and clean the refrigerant lines. If the warranty on your compressor has expired, it may be best to just replace the whole AC unit.
How to fix the outside ac unit tripping breaker?
If the AC circuit breaker keeps tripping, don’t keep turning it back on. Follow the steps below once to make sure there really is a problem before moving on. A nearby lightning strike can sometimes cause a one-time power surge that trips the breaker. Once you turn it back on, everything will be fine (sometimes).
When your AC circuit breaker trips, here are the first things to do:
- Turn OFF the air conditioner.
- Turn the AC circuit breaker to the ON position.
- Wait 30 minutes. Be sure that the thermostat remains OFF so that your air conditioner’s internal circuit breaker can reset.
- After 30 minutes, turn the air conditioner ON and set the thermostat back to COOL.
If you’re lucky, the AC circuit breaker won’t trip again, and everything will work normally. But if the AC circuit breaker trips again and again or the AC won’t turn back on, you have a problem that needs to be checked and fixed by a professional HVAC technician.