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Why Does My Circuit Breaker Keep Tripping?

Circuit breakers are safety devices, so if your circuit breaker keeps tripping it's for you and your home's safety. The following are the most common causes of tripping your circuit breaker:

  • Loose electrical connections
  • A weak breaker
  • A thunderstorm
  • A direct short
  • Malfunctioning compressor
  • Defective capacitor

One very common cause for breakers to trip are loose electrical connections and can easily be corrected by tightening them. Try one time to reset it by turning it to the “off” position and then back to the “on” position. Do not just keep resetting it and try to ignore the situation. It is trying to tell you something.

And while it may be just a weak breaker or the result of a thunderstorm, always remember that you are dealing with high voltage, high amperage and possibly high temperatures which can cause serious damage to life and property. Note that breakers should not feel hot to the touch. If it is hot, it indicates a problem and not to be ignored.

For example, if when you reset it, it immediately trips, that is usually indicative of a direct short. Do not even try to reset the breaker again.

Sometimes the breaker for the outside unit trips because the compressor is having a hard time starting and will require a “hard start” kit to get it going again or it may be as simple as replacing a defective capacitor.

Below is a list of possible causes and things to check. Items in blue can be addressed or fixed by the homeowner. Those in red usually require a service call.

  • Severe thunderstorm

  • Low voltage to the house as in a brown-out

  • Weak compressor

  • Under-sized breaker or wire

  • Defective breaker

  • Loose breaker

  • Loose electrical connection

  • Weak capacitor

  • Locked up motor or compressor

Hope this has been of some assistance, however they are just rough guidelines and not all possible conditions are covered.


The company You Choose To Install and Service Your System Will Determine The Degree of Comfort and Satisfaction You Enjoy.

Excerpts of the preceding information has been compiled by Hannabery HVAC, which has graciously permitted us to include them on this web site as a service for all homeowners.

These "Common HVAC Problems" are provided FREE and as a consequence Climatemakers does not assume any liability resulting from any information we provide. In all cases where there is any possibility of injury, consequential damage, direct damage to your equipment or when recommended by the equipment manufacturer, your system should be repaired, inspected or maintained by a qualified technician.

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If you find an error on this page I would appreciate it if you would email us or call (757) 600-0422.

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