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Why Is My Air Conditioner Tripping the Circuit Breaker when I Turn it On?

It happens in many older homes in the Fairfax County area—you turn your AC on and suddenly everything shuts off. When this happens, it means you’ve tripped the circuit breaker.

A circuit breaker protects the equipment, house, and wiring, and trips when too much electricity is flowing into the home. Tripped breakers happen more often in older homes because the electrical wiring in older homes just can’t handle the amount of electricity needed to power many modern-day appliances.

If your breaker trips whenever you turn on the AC, don’t keep resetting the circuit. This is dangerous and just ignoring the problem. It could be that you need to install a dedicated circuit, or that something is wrong with the air conditioner itself.

Can’t figure out what’s wrong with your AC system? Contact us for a diagnostic visit!

Reasons Why Your AC Might Be Tripping the Circuit

What if you have the proper dedicated circuits and your AC is still causing power failure? Here are a few reasons why that might happen:

  1. Your AC is overheating. An overheating air conditioner is a big cause of many of our emergency repairs When the compressor overheats it causes the whole system to shut down. One reason a compressor might overheat is the motor has bad bearings or windings. The excess resistance produces excess heat. When an air conditioner overheats, it draws more power from the circuit.
  2. You haven’t had proper maintenance. During an annual maintenance check, an HVAC technician checks your air filters, cleans your coils, and makes sure your refrigerant levels are optimal. Dirty air filters and condenser coils trap the heat and cause your air conditioner to work harder, drawing more power from the circuit. If your refrigerant levels are low, it can cause your AC to work harder to pump out colder air.

Learn more about annual maintenance agreements here.

  1. Parts failure. If one of the parts of your AC isn’t working, it may try to pull more amps to make up for the broken part. A quick call for air conditioner repairs to fix the broken part should do the trick.
  2. You don’t have a dedicated circuit. A dedicated circuit is exactly what it sounds like—a circuit dedicated to one appliance. Most large appliances need their own dedicated circuit because they use so much energy. Homes built within the last 20 years are most likely wired for modern HVAC systems, but if you choose a mini-split or window AC unit, you may need to get additional circuits. The rule of thumb is if it has a motor, it should have its own circuit.

In Fairfax and the surrounding Virginia areas, there are a lot of older homes that may not have the proper circuitry to power your air conditioner, even if it’s an energy-efficient one. You should call an HVAC technician to determine if the problem is the circuit or the air conditioner itself. If it’s the circuit, you’ll need to call an electrician to install new wiring or upgrade your system.

Click here to find out more about common AC problems and what to do about them.

Contact HVAC Unlimited for Air Conditioner Repairs in Fairfax, VA

If you have all the proper circuitry, then you should call the experts at HVAC Unlimited to make a service call. We will diagnose the problem and make what repairs can be made, and if it turns out you need a new AC system, we can replace your old one. Fill out our contact form or call us today at (703) 688-2151 for emergency service or repairs in the Fairfax, VA area!

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