2 Main Reasons An AC Might Trip The Circuit Breaker

The air conditioner (AC) plugs into a circuit breaker that cuts off the electrical supply to the AC in case of a fault. Numerous faults can trip the circuit breaker, but you can classify most of them under the following two categories. 

1. Short Circuits

An electrical short circuit occurs if electrical current flows through an unintended path. A short circuit is dangerous since it can cause an electrical fire, electrocution, or damage electrical components. Circuit breakers trip to cut off electrical power if they sense short circuits. Below are some AC issues that can cause short circuits and trip breakers.

Loose Connections

A typical AC has several electrical connections that can loosen for different reasons. For example, compressor motor vibrations can loosen connections to the compressor over time. If that happens, the loose wires might connect to the compressor casing, causing a short circuit. A comparable fault can occur with the fan motor component.

Insulation Breakdown

Insulation isolates AC electrical cables and hence the current flowing through them. Unfortunately, the insulation can break down, for example, due to heat, accidental damage, or wear and tear. A short circuit occurs if adjacent cables lose insulation and the naked wires touch.

2. Overcurrents

The electrical components of the AC operate best within specific electrical power ranges. Too much current can damage such parts of the AC. For that reason, the circuit breaker cuts off the electricity if it senses that an appliance, such as the AC, is drawing more power than it should. Below are some causes of overcurrent in ACs.

Locked Compressor

An AC compressor can seize due to a mechanical malfunction. If that happens, the compressor might draw more current than usual as it attempts to loosen and operate as usual. The increased current draw might trip the circuit breaker.

Phase Loss

Some ACs have motors that draw power in multiple phases. For example, some ACs have 3-phase motors. In such motors, the loss of power in one phase (for example, due to a loose connection) overloads the other phases with the current. If that happens, the circuit breaker will trip if the system doesn't have a phase loss protector.


Lastly, anything that causes the AC to overwork can cause it to draw more power than usual. Such problems include a refrigerant leak, a restricted air filter, and a frozen coil. In such a case, the AC will draw more power than usual to maintain the desired cooling output, tripping the circuit breaker.

Contact an HVAC technician for diagnosis and AC system repair if your AC keeps tripping its breaker. Don't keep resetting the breaker if it keeps tripping. Otherwise, the underlying electrical problem might worsen.