If your air conditioner suddenly turns off and you still have power to the rest of your house, the problem could be a tripped circuit breaker. The circuit breaker is a fail-safe mechanism that protects your home in case of an electrical short or power surge. When it trips, it might signal a serious problem that needs professional repair. Here's a look at what to do when the circuit breaker for your AC flips off.
Check The Electrical Panel
If your air conditioner is the only thing not working in your home, check the electrical panel to see if the breaker flipped to the off position. If it's still on, then you know the problem is elsewhere. If it's off, check the condition of the panel to see if there are char marks or hot spots. If so, don't turn the breaker back on. Call an electrician or HVAC technician for help. The breaker may need to be replaced.
Look For Airflow Obstructions
You shouldn't let a breaker keep tripping, so before you turn it back on, check for obstructions to airflow that might be causing the AC to pull too much power. One likely cause is a clogged filter. If the filter is dirty, change it before turning your AC back on. The condenser and coils outside should be checked too.
If the cage is grimy, filled with leaves, and blocked by weeds, air won't flow through it easily. You can trim weeds and clean the condenser cage if you know how. If you don't feel comfortable cleaning out the cage, then call an HVAC technician to service your AC. If the cage is dirty and full of debris, the internal parts and coils are probably dirty too and in need of cleaning.
Once you've verified the filter is clean and your air conditioner has unrestricted airflow, flip the circuit breaker back on. If it pops off immediately, then leave it off and call a professional to look at your system. When the breaker flips off right away, it could be a sign of an electrical wiring problem that poses a danger to your home.
If the cause of the power failure was a clogged filter, then your AC should run without further problems if the rest of the parts are functioning properly. However, it's possible that your air conditioner will run for several minutes or a few hours before it trips the breaker again. A number of failed parts can cause your AC to overheat or pull too much power, and an HVAC tech will have to diagnose the problem and make repairs.
You don't want to use your AC and allow it to keep tripping the circuit because that is a safety concern and it might even damage your air conditioning system. Instead, leave the breaker off and get professional air conditioning services.