Why your window air conditioner keeps tripping the breaker

Your air conditioner may be tripping the breaker because it is dirty or because there is an issue with its compressor, fan motor, or electrical wiring.

Although window air conditioners can be extremely convenient, there are some common issues that can arise if they are installed incorrectly or if they are not maintained well.

One of these common issues is when your window air conditioner keeps tripping the circuit breaker and this can be caused by many things, which you can easily investigate and troubleshoot.

Common window air conditioner problems

The installation of a window air conditioner unit can be a great idea if you have limited space, but you need a way to cool your room effectively.

Window air conditioners come in a variety of sizes and designs and they work well for many years if they are maintained properly.

However, this does not mean that window air conditioners always work perfectly. Window air conditioners that are installed incorrectly may leak into your home and could even let a lot of the outside air into your home.

It is also common for this type of air conditioner to freeze over or blow ice into your room, but most of these issues can be fixed relatively easily.

Why your window air conditioner keeps tripping the breaker

One of the other problems that owners often experience with their window air conditioners, or any air conditioners, for that matter, is that the air conditioner continually trips the breaker.

There are a variety of reasons why this could be happening with your air conditioner and the best way to approach the problem is to work through the various possible causes as you would through a troubleshooting list.

Your starting point if your window air conditioner is giving you problems should always be to ensure that the air filters and condenser coils are not dirty or broken.

If the air filters or condenser coils of your window air conditioner are dirty, your air conditioner fan motor and compressor will have to work harder to draw in air to cool this air through the dirt.

This means that your air conditioner will draw more power and this could be what is causing your breaker to trip.

You can solve this by rinsing the filter under lukewarm water and scrubbing it gently with a soft brush or a coil brush and a distilled white vinegar cleaning solution.

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However, if cleaning the air filters and coils does not work, there are also other common problems that may be causing your window air conditioner to continuously trip the breaker, including:

  • Issues with the breaker
  • Issues with the compressor or fan motor
  • Issues with loose wiring

Why issues with the breaker may cause your breaker to trip

If your window air conditioner is continually tripping the circuit breaker, the problem may lie with the breaker instead of the air conditioner.

A circuit breaker’s function is to shut off and protect electrical equipment and appliances from currents that are too large for the breaker.

This means that the breaker may be tripping if your air conditioner is drawing more amps than the breaker is rated for or if there is loose or damaged wiring leading from the breaker to the outlet.

You can use an electric multi-meter with a clamp, like this Klein Tools CL800 one to corroborate this, but you should keep in mind that continually turning the window AC unit on while it is tripping the breaker could damage your air conditioner’s electrical components.

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Why issues with the compressor or fan motor may cause your breaker to trip

If the compressor of your air conditioner is old, it may have to pull more power when it initially starts up. This is called “Hard” starting and it could be what is overloading your circuit breaker.

A ground compressor or fan motor could also be causing your air conditioner to trip the breaker. This happens because a wire inside the compressor has corroded or moved and is now hitting the side of the compressor.

This, or a broken wire in the fan motor will cause a current surge that will trip the circuit breaker.

Why issues with loose wiring may cause your breaker to trip

In the same way that a compressor or fan motor grounding could be causing a current surge, which is why your circuit breaker is tripping, any of the other electrical wires in your air conditioner can have the same effect.

Your circuit breaker continually tripping could be dangerous, which is why you should investigate the inside of your air conditioner for any corroded, broken, or loose wires to find the cause of this problem.

1 thought on “Why your window air conditioner keeps tripping the breaker”

  1. My window ac unit is only three years old. I have noticed a loud boom when the compressor is kicking on and or off? Why is this loud boom sound happening? Also for the first time the designated breaker and outlet tripped last nite. Today I found the breaker tripped..why is this?


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