Why is My AC Tripping My Circuit Breaker? A Portland Tech Explains

Is your AC suddenly turning off?

The first thing you’ll want to check is if your circuit breaker has “tripped” into a neutral position. If so, you’ll want to reset it by:

  1. Flipping the breaker OFF
  2. Flipping the breaker ON
  3. Waiting 30 seconds

Important note: If the breaker trips again, do not reset it or you might cause serious electrical damage. Contact a professional ASAP.

If your AC continues to trip after a reset, you probably have one of the following issues:

  • A dirty air filter
  • Dirty condenser (outdoor unit) coils
  • Low refrigerant levels
  • Broken condenser fan

Below, we’ll go into more detail about each issue and how you can fix them.


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Problem #1: A dirty air filter

When air filters are dirty, they restrict the airflow to your AC, which makes your AC work harder to cool your home.

If your AC has to work harder to cool your home, it will use more electricity, which can cause the circuit breaker to trip.

To prevent your AC from tripping because of a dirty air filter, you’ll want to change your air filter regularly.

Problem #2: Dirty condenser coils

Your AC has two units: the indoor unit and the outdoor unit. The indoor unit absorbs heat from your home’s air and moves it to the outdoor unit. The outdoor unit then dumps the heat outside via condenser coils. If the coils are dirty, the unit will struggle to transfer the heat to the outside air.

If your outdoor AC unit is dirty, it will have to work longer to cool your home. The AC system will then need to use more electricity, which can cause the breaker to trip.

If your condenser coils are covered in a dense layer of dirt, you’ll want to contact a professional to clean them for you to avoid damaging your outdoor unit.

Problem #3: Low refrigerant levels

Refrigerant is a cold substance that circulates throughout your AC system. It absorbs the heat from inside your home and dumps it using the condenser coils.

If your refrigerant lines are low, your system won’t be able to remove enough heat from your home. As a result, your AC will use more power and can eventually trip the breaker from overuse.

When you have low refrigerant levels, you’ll notice problems like:

  • Hissing sounds near your AC
  • Hotter-than-normal indoor temperatures
  • Ice on your indoor/outdoor AC unit

Any time you have low refrigerant levels, you have a leak. This is because refrigerant works in a closed-loop system in your AC system, so if your refrigerant levels are low, it means there’s a leak. If you have a refrigerant leak, you’ll want to contact a professional to fix it because refrigerant is a toxic substance.

Problem #4: Broken condenser fan

Your AC system has 2 fan motors, one for the indoor unit (blower motor) and another for the outdoor unit (condenser fan).

As mentioned above, your AC system absorbs heat from the air and then dumps the heat outside. The condenser fan’s job is to disseminate the heat outdoors.

If you can’t hear the fan running in your outdoor unit, the fan motor is probably broken. Typically the motor breaks down because of normal wear-and-tear, which can cause an electrical short. The short will force your circuit breaker to trip to prevent the other components in your AC from frying.

To fix a broken condenser fan, contact a professional for assistance. Electrical work can be complex and dangerous, both for yourself and your system.

Need help with your circuit breaker? Contact Four Seasons

We provide convenient AC repairs with our 2-hour appointment slots and fast, same-day service.

On top of convenience, our NATE-certified technicians are dependable and can repair all AC brands and models.

Schedule today!