The Texas heat can often be sweltering, which is why it’s essential to have air conditioning in the household. While AC is extremely beneficial, the last thing you want to deal with is tripping the circuit breaker while using it. When a breaker trips, it’s usually due to an overload in electricity, a short circuit, or ground fault surges. However, your air conditioning unit can also play a role in tripping the breaker. 

So, what exactly are your air conditioning unit’s reasons for tripping the breaker? We’re going to be covering the potential causes below:

Potential Causes

A Dirty Air Filter

A common reason that your AC unit may be tripping the circuit breaker could be due to a dirty air filter. If you aren’t keeping up with having your air filter changed, it can result in a buildup of dust, dirt, and debris. Your air conditioner will then have to work extra hard to let air pass through the dust-coated filter. The unit could potentially overheat due to the dirty air filter and cause your circuit breaker to trip. It’s recommended to have your air filters changed every 30 days, or six months if you’re using high-end pleated filters

Dirty Outside Unit

Your AC system may have both an indoor and outdoor unit. The inside unit’s job is to absorb heat from the air and cool it with refrigerant. The refrigerant then flows through the outdoor unit to release the heat. The outdoor unit may run into some trouble dispersing heat if it’s not maintained. Dirt can insulate the inside of the unit and make it difficult for it to do its job correctly. This can cause the breaker to trip due to the amount of energy it’s drawing in. 

Dirty Condenser Coils

A dirty outdoor unit can also create problems for the parts inside of it. When dirt accumulates, it can coat your unit’s condenser coil. The buildup of dirt and dust can interrupt the coil’s transfer of heat and require too much power to cool your home. It can result in the breaker tripping. Periodically getting your unit cleaned or replaced will decrease the risk of dirty condenser coils ruining your enjoyment of your AC.

The Motor Shorted 

The blower motor in your air conditioner can run for hours and hours. However, if the motor runs for too long, the insulation of the wires can begin to break down, leading to an electrical short. A short is when the electricity bypasses its normal path, which results in more electrical flow than the wires can handle. The overabundance of electricity can cause the wires to overheat and melt, causing the breaker to trip. 

Busted Coil Fan

The fan in an air conditioning unit is powered by the motor and cools down the coils. If the motor is experiencing problems, it can cause the AC unit to increase its power usage, resulting in the fan giving out. The drawing of too much power to operate both the motor and fan can trip the AC circuit breaker. 

Compressor Troubles 

The compressor is like the heart of your air conditioner system. It requires a lot of electricity to power your AC. Often, the air conditioning compressor ages and has trouble starting up and draws more power than it needs, leading to a breaker trip. 

Other times, your compressor can become “grounded”, which means that some of the electrical winding has either fallen off or hit the side of the compressor. When this happens, it can cause an electrical shortage or surge, tripping the circuit breaker.

Loose Wires & Old Parts

An air conditioner is a complex system with many wires and parts to make it run smoothly. With the duration of time, the wires in your AC system may come loose or disconnect because electrical current generates heat, leading to your circuit breaker tripping. The parts within the air conditioning system may not function as well over time, requiring a replacement. It’s recommended that you have your air conditioner serviced by an HVAC technician at least once a year. Having your system looked over can fix any rewiring or replacement needs if necessary. 

A Frozen Air Conditioning System 

A frozen AC system can occur when the coil freezes or becomes coated in ice. There are many reasons why this can happen, such as:

  • A refrigerant leak
  • A dirty air filter
  • The evaporator coil is dirty
  • Neglected maintenance 
  • Your home is at a higher temperature than usual

When the air conditioning system is frozen, it will keep drawing higher power until your breaker trips. If you continue to use your air conditioner while it’s frozen, it could ruin or damage the compressor. The problem can be sorted out by a visit from an HVAC professional.


It cannot be argued that air conditioning adds a great deal of comfort and ease during hot days. To keep up with that comfort, you must have your AC properly taken care of. If you don’t want to run into air conditioner troubles during some of the hottest days to come, then get the most from our trustworthy AC service in San Marcos. This way, you’ll stay cool when those temperatures start to rise.