How to Stop an Air Conditioner Tripping Your Breaker


Are you finding yourself running to your main electrical panel far too often, asking yourself how to stop your air conditioner from tripping the breaker?

If so, you might also be a little concerned about why this is happening. Don’t worry, I have the answer.

There are a few common reasons for an air conditioner to trip the circuit breaker. It could be because of a short circuit, a faulty part somewhere in your system, or most likely, your compressor or fan is causing the circuit to trip because they’re drawing too many amps.

Read on. I’ll cover what to do to fix the situation.

How To Stop The Above From Tripping Your Breaker

breaker panel
Is your AC tripping your breakers?

As mentioned above there are many reasons why this may be happening. I’ll go through the reasons one at a time, and then provide you with the most effective solution.

Reasons Why Your Air Conditioner May Be Tripping Your Circuit Breaker
Dirty air filters
Dirty condenser coil
Faulty condenser coil fan
Hard starting
Loose wiring
Short circuits
Refrigerant pressure

Dirty Air Filters

cleaning air filters
Change or clean your air filters

We all know what breathing through a mask is like now. Sometimes we need to work harder to pull in a breath. Having a dirty air filter has much of the same impact on your HVAC system. Essentially, you’re suffocating it.

A buildup of dirt on the filter makes it harder for air to flow through. This causes your blower motor to work harder and longer in order to circulate air. Working harder and longer means it’s potentially overheating and drawing too much electricity. This can eventually cause your breaker to trip.

Change or clean your air filters. You hopefully know what a dirty air filter looks like, because you will have changed one at least once. Hopefully.

If filters are the cause of your breaker tripping, the solution is simple. Change or clean your air filters.

Dirty Condenser Coils

Your condenser coils are located in the outside unit of your air conditioner. Since this is sitting outside unprotected from the elements, it will, over time, collect a significant amount of dirt. Unfortunately, this buildup of dirt has a negative impact on your system.

These coils work to pull heat from your home and disperse it outside. But if there’s too much dirt on the coil your system needs to work harder to do so. And as is the case with your air filters, making the system work harder can ultimately cause it to overheat and trip your breaker.

Clean your condenser coils. Here are the steps.

1. Do a visual inspection, looking for any damage. If your coils are damaged then instead of working on them yourself it is recommended that you call a technician.

2. Using a coil brush remove any debris from the coils. This could be a buildup of dust and dirt, or foliage from nearby plant life.

3. Overtime, coil fins can get twisted and bent, due to Being hit by things like hail or stones. If any of the fins are bent, use a fin comb to straighten them out.

4. Use a garden hose to gently water the coils, and then spray some foaming coil cleaner over it. Depending on the type you use, you may need to rinse it off.

For a visual, you can also follow the steps in this video.

Faulty Condenser Coil Fan

At the top of your compressor, which is the outdoor unit, there is a fan that blows across the condenser coil found within. The purpose of the fan is to help dissipate heat that has been collected from inside the house.

The motors for these fans are, of course, outside as well. Meaning they are at the mercy of the elements and can be damaged or simply suffer from wear and tear. As they work harder, trying to keep up with their workload, they can begin to overheat which will cause your breaker to trip.

Check your condenser coil fan. Several things could go wrong with the condenser fan. Refer to this linked list to help you diagnose and repair.

Hard Starting

Hard starting is a term used for when you’re air conditioner’s compressor has difficulty turning on and staying on. If your air conditioner is facing this issue, you may notice the compressor stuttering as it tries to come on and then immediately cycling off. This can also cause the breaker to trip.

One of the most common reasons for air conditioners to start hard starting is due to failing capacitors, or a problem with the compressor itself.

If your system is hard starting, you should call a technician.

Loose Wiring

As your system begins to age wires throughout may become loose, causing connection interruptions and ultimately a circuit breaker that trips.

See below, under short circuits, for the solution.

Short Circuits

Electrical short circuits can also cause your circuit to trip. A Short circuit is when two wires, such as a hotwire and a neutral wire, lose their protective insulation and touch each other. When this happens there is a surge of current.

Fortunately, your main electrical panel has a failsafe for when this happens, since this surge of current could cause a fire. The failsafe is your breaker tripping.

If your problem is either loose wiring or short circuiting, you’ll need to call in an HVAC professional. They’ll be able to diagnose any electrical problems that may be causing your breaker to trip.

Refrigerant Pressure

This is unusual, but if you have too much refrigerant it correlates to too much pressure in your system. This causes a strain on your compressor, making it work hard and ultimately tripping your breaker at some point.

Refrigerant issues must be handled by a certified technician, so you will need to call someone in to deal with leaks or pressure issues.

Undersized Breaker

An undersized breaker is another possibility.

The correct breaker should be in the panel and inspected at the time of construction, but sometimes it gets changed with whatever a person can find that fits. The AC unit normally has the right breaker listed on the model and serial label. It will say something like “max fuse”, “breaker” or “MOP”. There are a few rules where you can use a value lower than the max fuse, but if your breaker or fuse is lower than the value on the ac unit, it could be undersized which would cause it to trip.


As you can see from the above, there are multiple reasons why your air conditioner may trip your circuit breaker. Some of them aren’t too alarming or costly to fix. Others will require a technician and quite possibly mean Your air conditioner has run its life, and it’s time for a new one.

To recap, here are 7 possible reasons for your air conditioner to cause your circuit breaker to trip.

  • Dirty air filters
  • Dirty condenser coil
  • Faulty condenser coil fan
  • Hard starting
  • Loose wiring
  • Short circuits
  • Refrigerant pressure
  • Undersized breaker

Thanks for reading through. Hopefully, the above information has helped you find an answer to your issue.

While you’re here, why not check out our related posts below. maybe there’s something else we can help you with.

I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more