6 Reasons Your HVAC System Keeps Tripping Its Breaker or Blowing Its Fuse
Most residential HVAC systems are very reliable, especially if they aren’t more than 15 years old. Despite that, you may find your system has a tendency to blow a fuse or trip its breaker. While this can happen occasionally due to power surges, it signals that you may have a problem that needs attention when they happen regularly. Consider these six reasons your system may continue tripping its breaker, then call one of the technicians at All Temp Co., Inc Air Conditioning, Heating, Plumbing, & Electrical to help solve it properly the first time.
1. Too Little Airflow
One of the most common causes of tripped breakers and blown fuses is too little airflow through the system. This increases the electrical resistance of some components which causes it to draw more power. Ultimately, that additional draw becomes enough to trip the breaker or blow a fuse. Common causes of too little airflow include:
- Clogged air filters
- Dirty evaporator coil and heat exchanger
- Dirty condensing coil
- Dirty circulating fan wheel
- Clogged ducts
- Blocked or closed vents
- Faulty blower motor
2. Loose Electrical Connections
Tripped breakers and blown fuses are a result of the circuit attempting to pass more current than it was designed to handle. One of the most common reasons for increased power flowing through a circuit is added resistance somewhere in the circuit. This resistance is a measure of how easily the electricity can travel from one point to another.
Loose electrical connections increase the resistance at the point of those connections because of increased heat, often from arcing. It’s common for some electrical connections to come loose as a normal part of the system operating because of the vibration it experiences and because of the changes in temperature. When you have your system maintained, a technician will check and tighten all relevant electrical connections to reduce the resistance and the amount of power the circuit is trying to pass.
3. Electrical Shorts
A circuit is usually designed with materials that allow electricity to flow with relatively low resistance, also known as impedance. However, there are components built into the circuit to increase the resistance to a specified level, commonly known as resistors. An electrical short happens when current is allowed to travel along an unintended path with lower resistance than intended for that circuit. This lower resistance allows massively more current to flow through the circuit, which will trip a breaker or blow a fuse.
Your HVAC system may develop a short as it ages if wiring is allowed to rub against sharp edges, wearing through the insulation and exposing the wire. This will short the system when that wire makes contact with a conductor like the metal system body.
4. Low Refrigerant
Your air conditioner or heat pump requires a certain amount of refrigerant to run effectively. If the system has a leak and there isn’t enough refrigerant, it causes additional strain on the compressor. This strain makes the compressor work harder, which draws more power to achieve the required refrigerant pressure. When the refrigerant is low enough, it may cause your breaker to trip. If the compressor is drawing this amount of power, it may also experience damage that requires a replacement.
5. Faulty Capacitor
The capacitor is a special electrical component that stores a large electrical charge. The system requires this high charge to start the compressor and compressor fan motor at the beginning of a cycle. If this becomes faulty, it may attempt to draw too much power leading to a blown fuse or tripped breaker. Signs of a bad capacitor include a loud humming sound or a burning smell coming from your outdoor unit. If you suspect this problem, do not attempt to repair it yourself due to the risk of severe electrical shock.
6. Bad Condenser or Condenser Fan Motor
Both your condenser and condenser fan motor draw a lot of power. If either one is operating sub-optimally, it may draw more power than intended, burning out a fuse or tripping a breaker. A maintenance technician will test the electrical draw on both of these components during routine maintenance being too much draw signals a problem with the component. Like a capacitor, these require professional service to minimize the risk of injury from severe electric shock.
All Temp Co., Inc Air Conditioning, Heating, Plumbing, & Electrical has provided trusted and reliable heating and cooling services to homeowners around Concord since 1983. Our team installs, maintains, and repairs heating and cooling systems along with providing indoor air quality solutions, a full range of plumbing services, energy efficiency auditing and solutions, and wine cellar construction. Call to schedule your HVAC service appointment to solve your breaker-tripping problem with one of our NATE-certified technicians today.Tags: hvac repair