Breaker tripping on A/C Condenser?

My neighbor called today and said his compressor kept tripping the 40amp breaker? Our homes are 12yrs old and I realize were getting close to life expectancy, but when he re-set the breaker it worked for several more hours. Is this due to the excessive heat 95-104deg for the last 6 days? Is it a electrical issue(old compressor pulling to many amps?) or bad compressor?
Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!

Christopher Rich

It could be simply a loose connection at the breaker or a bad breaker.

Could also be a worn condenser fan motor. If the motor is not operating correctly excessive head pressure builds the compressor can begin to labor. It can not only trip the breaker, but can also be responsible for extremely high utility bills. Check the connector switch for heat damage and scaring. Follow the compressor wiring to the connector. I’ve also found units running non stop when the connector fails creating a complete circuit.

You can always chance the breaker to rule that out, they are cheap ( $12.50) but I would venture to say it is the unit that needs looking at by an HVAC Tech.

Thanks Paul, Will and Bruce!

It sound like the compressor to me, but they are having a electrician coming out first thing today to check the breaker. Another 100deg day here in NJ.

Although repeated breaker trips on a condenser can be a number of things, my first guesses would be either supply voltage is low if it’s been unusually hot in the area (utility company just cant keep up) or the compressor is starting to go bad.

A bad breaker would most likely trip on startup before the unit even gets going, as that should normally be the highest current draw, and breakers don’t fail very often (unless it’s an FPE … lol). But a number of things should be checked out (including things like the current it’s drawing, possible loose connections, low supply voltage, internal electronics, etc.) before ya send the condenser flowers … :wink:

A specialist should check the startup and running load against the nameplate RLA with a clamp on amp probe to see if it’s drawing too much current before ya start swapping things out. They should also check that the breaker is sized about right per the manufacturer/nameplate (around twice the RLA). Just swapping the breaker out in-kind without checking things may appear to solve the problem for a short time if the unit is drawing about the breaker rating at startup and/or while running (although it shouldn’t be that close) and the new breaker has a slightly higher actual trip load.

JMO & WAG … :wink:

A hard start capacitor may get a couple more years outta the old bugger too.

It is most likely due to heat.
I am on Block Island, RI. and I know the weather over there in NJ.

High heat = high refrigerant pressure = high amperage draw = high breaker heat.

Dirty condenser coils (even if they look clean) is likely the cause.

You need an HVAC evaluation to check all the possibilities, not the stabbing in the dark we do from here.

Have the voltages at the unit checked while it starts and the amperage draw. Other things that would lead to high amperage draw would be a dirty condenser coil. Dirty coils elevates system pressure and also raises the amperage draw of the unit