Why Your AC Could Be Tripping Your Circuit Breaker

The reason why your circuit breaker trips might remain a mystery—and a quickly forgotten one at that. If it only happens on rare occasions, its cause may never be traced and is likely to be dismissed as an isolated, nonrecurring problem, such as an electrical surge. But regular circuit breaker issues while using an appliance of significant wattage can mean that the appliance is experiencing a potentially serious issue. So what does it mean when your air conditioner regularly trips your circuit breaker?

Professional Repairs

This situation is cause for concern, although not alarm. Your AC and your home's electrical circuitry are unlikely to be on the verge of a catastrophe, although prompt attention is needed. This isn't the sort of error that should be fixed by an amateur, no matter how much DIY experience you may have. There's likely to be an electrical issue inside the air conditioner, and this problem must be solved by an HVAC contracting provider with experience in electrical repair.


It could be that the cause is relatively minor. An assessment of your AC unit will involve a close inspection of its fuses, and a simple disruption to these connections can be enough to trip your home's circuit breaker when the fuses in question are inside a high-wattage appliance. Fuses may still be in good working order, but an accumulation of dust and grime could be interrupting your fuse's connection. 


Deteriorated wiring inside your AC could be an alternative culprit. This is a fairly standard issue, but a potentially hazardous one if the wiring's insulation has been damaged. General wear and tear can eventually take its toll on an AC's wiring, particularly wiring in proximity to moving parts. Replacing deteriorated wiring should restore consistent electrical flow throughout the unit.


Most home air conditioners feature two capacitors. These store electrical energy for release as needed for intensive electrical use by a high-wattage appliance or device. Most ACs use a start capacitor when the unit is activated, and then utilize a run capacitor for general operation. Should either capacitor be experiencing problems, intermittent failures can cause sporadic electrical bursts, which your circuit breaker registers as an electrical surge. Malfunctioning capacitors must be replaced.

The exact reason why your electrical circuit breaker keeps tripping when your AC is switched on can only be determined by a professional. Ideally, that exact reason is a minor one, and to ensure it stays minor, please don't wait too long to have the problem diagnosed. To have your home systems inspected, contact an HVAC contractor for relevant electrical repairs.