9 Reasons Why Your Air Conditioner Is Tripping The Circuit Breaker

You are noticing that your air conditioner is tripping your circuit breaker and are concerned about why this is happening. Do not worry, we tackle this problem often here at One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning® of the Bay Area. There could be some reasons why your air conditioner keeps tripping your circuit breaker.

If you are experiencing this problem, then your best option is always to contact a professional who knows how to repair this technical issue. When you are dealing with electrical wiring; it may be hazardous to attempt to fix it yourself when you are not properly trained to do so. Avoid property and personal damage by calling in a trained professional.

Let’s begin by understanding the fundamental principle of why this is happening.

“When an air conditioner is tripping the breaker, it is simply because the air conditioner is pulling more amps than the breaker is rated for.”


If your circuit breaker acts as a standard breaker at about 15-20amps and the air conditioner unit you are using are pulling in 30 amps then the breaker will trip because it has passed the maximum capacity your breaker can handle. The main reason for why your air conditioner is drawing in more amps is because something is causing it to overwork and operate inefficiently.

The circuit breaker is tripping to protect your home from overcurrents. Overcurrents create hazards like melting wire that could start a fire.

Try This Once: Reset your breaker, turn it back on and see if your breaker trips again. If your breaker trips again, then you need to call for help because now you are dealing with a high voltage, high amperage, and high-temperature problem.

9 Reasons Why Your Air Conditioner is Tripping the Breaker.

1. A Dirty Air Filter

When your air conditioner is running on dirty filters, it makes your unit have to work harder to circulate the air through the vents. The air conditioner needs to run longer to circulate enough cooling air to achieve the temperatures you are demanding with a dirty filter.  When your air conditioner is forced to run longer, it needs to draw more electricity thus tripping the breaker. This will overheat your unit and also wear it down.

Solution: Simple, change the air filter.

2. Not Enough Refrigerant

Similar to the dirty air filter problem, when your air conditioner is running on low refrigerant the AC is forced to work longer to cool your home. This causes overheating and damages your A/C. You will know if the refrigerant is the issue when the air being put out is not very cold.

Solution: A technician will need to come and refill your refrigerant and seal up any leaks

3. Dirty Condenser Coils

These are the coils for your air conditioner’s outside unit. The inside unit absorbs heat from your air using the refrigerant, which then gets flowed to the outside unit to remove the heat.

When your condenser coil is dirty, it prevents the action of your outside unit from dispersing the heat out. This makes the air conditioner again work harder and longer to cool your home forcing it to overheat. So, your air conditioner needs more electricity to try to push the heat out, which then trips the breaker as a result.

Solution: You can attempt to wash the coils yourself. But, we believe it will be better and more efficient to have it professionally cleaned, so you do not damage any part of the unit. 

4. Broken Coil Fan

As previously mentioned, the coils attempt to release the heat from the inside unit, but this is done using a fan that blows over the coils. This fan is in the outside unit, and if it stops working, the condenser coils have no means to cool down.

Solution: Call an air conditioning repair technician from One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning® of the Bay Area to repair the fan.

5. Motor has Shorted

The electric motors in your air conditioner can run for hours, and when they are left running for too long, the wire insulation can break down leading to an electrical short. More electricity passes through than the wires can handle, which then trips the breakers.

Solution: This requires professional assistance to locate where the short is.

6. Your Compressor is “Hard Starting.”

The compressor is the heart of your air conditioning system. As your air conditioning system gets older, so does the compressor. The compressor takes in a large portion of energy when it first starts up, but with age, the compressor begins to have trouble starting up. This is what we mean by “hard starting.” When your compressor starts to show signs of hard starting it requires more electricity to get going, thus tripping your breaker.

Solution: Call one of our qualified HVAC technicians to install a “hard start kit” to jolt your old, weak or tight compressor back up again.

7. Grounded Compressor

This means that one of the electrical windings inside the compressor broken. The windings inside the compressor will hit the side of the compressor causing a direct short to ground. This usually means that it will ignite the oil causing burnouts, which in a reaction will trip your breaker.

Solution: This is a more critical situation that needs professional care. The entire compressor will need to be replaced, and the refrigerant lines will need to be cleaned.

8. Bad Capacitor

The capacitor starts the compressor, and if your capacitor is blown out, it will need to be replaced. This could be the core reason if you find that your air conditioner has trouble starting before your circuit breaker trips.

Solution: This will also need to be handled professionally

9. Loose Wiring and Aging Parts

As your air conditioning unit gets older and wears down with the passing years, the wiring inside will start to loosen. This can also be the cause of why your circuit breaker is tripping from your air conditioner.

Solution: Wiring issues should always be handled by someone trained to handle the electrical wiring.

Call One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning® of the Bay Area: (844) 338-5492

Aside from changing your air filters, most problems associated with your circuit breaker and your air conditioning unit must be handled professionally. The components causing these issues involve sensitive parts from both the air conditioning unit and the circuit breaker.

You are dealing with extremely high voltage, higher amperage, and high temperatures. The consequences of mishandling any of these causes can lead to property damage, a severe injury like burns, and even death.