Air Compressors

Is Your Air Compressor Tripping the Breaker

Is Your Air Compressor Tripping the BreakerAir compressors can cause the circuit breaker to trip due to several common reasons, and all the reasons are broadly categorized under electrical and mechanical problems. 

Rather than dealing with the electric circuit directly, try a few things like changing the filter, cleaning the coil, or checking the bleeder or loader valve. Love, and if you think these things are not causing the circuit breaker to trip, then move forward towards mechanical issues first.

Take a look at the mechanical parts of your air compressor to detect a mechanical fault if you can visually. Take a deep lock at the pulleys, belts, motor, or the pump to see if anything isn’t anything broken or something stuck.

After a thorough inspection of the mechanical parts, it’s time to move forward with the electrical side.

Sometimes, the circuit breaker trips when the combined amperage due to several devices running simultaneously is higher than that a breaker can handle, which leads to tripping.

Is Your Air Compressor Tripping the Breaker

So, try using a dedicated circuit breaker for your compressor that can easily handle the load of the compressor.

If you are facing the same tripping problem again, that means the circuit breaker is not the problem; the air compressor is causing it to trip again and again. We will take a deep look at the most common reasons causing the air compressor to trip.

Failed unloader valve of the air compressor

The biggest and the most common reason for an air compressor to cause tripping is the failed unloader valve.

To verify that, 

Unplug the air compressor for safety reasons

Remove the air inside the tank by opening the tank drain

Plug the air compressor again

Turn on the switch of the compressor and let the tank fill with pressurized air.

If it isn’t filling the air, time to check the pump

Turn off the compressor, bleed some air replace the valve, and if the breaker trips during that, the value was causing the breaker to trip.

Shorted Air Compressor:

Sometimes, a simple thing like shorted air compressor can cause the breaker to trip, and those who do not know about it might be just resetting their breaker, which isn’t going to help.

So, a shorted air compressor will cause the breaker to trip every time you start the compressor. Get a multimeter and inspect the terminal line or compressor. Before doing this, make sure to unplug the air compressor to keep yourself safe from any potential electricity harm. When the plug is removed, turn the circuit breaker on and see if it is tripping or not. If it is still tripping, it’s obvious that the breaker is faulty. If not, that means the air compressor is faulty, and you need to get a technician for that.

Damaged Wire:

Sometimes, cables are naked in some households where birds can easily sit or bite the cable that can damage it. Other than that, rodents can do the same disaster to a cable that affects the wire insulation that connects the breaker and the compressor. So, if you see that causing the tripping, remove then disconnect the switch and remove the circuit panel. Try to repair the wire and get good terminal connectors, and the problem will be resolved.

High Power Draw During Startup:

Higher power draw is another common reason for a circuit breaker to trip. What happens is that the air compressor draws more power than the required limit, which is not possible for a circuit breaker to deliver that leads to tripping. Therefore, you should always install a hard start kit to manage the amperage and keep them under control every time.

Clogged Condensor Coil:

If you still notice that an air compressor is drawing more power, then there can be a clogged coil causing the fan to work harder. The ideal solution is to use water spray to remove the dirt so that the coil can easily pass the air, which means the fan won’t need extra power to operate. But, use the spray gently as you can damage the coil, which will increase the cost.

Not enough or too much freon

Another reason that can cause the air compressor to trip the circuit breaker is the increase or decrease of freon levels. A DIYer cannot solve that, so try getting a professional for that.

Damaged Condenser Motor:

Another common reason for an air compressor to trip the circuit breaker is that the condenser motor can be damaged, which means the fan won’t be functioning properly or may be stuck or rotating slowly. Again, a damaged motor means the air compressor will overheat, and you cannot repair that yourself.

Damaged Contactor:

The next reason that will cause the circuit breaker to trip is the damaged contactor which is a part of the air compressor that controls the voltage of the air compressor. The damaged contactor means the voltage is uneven on both terminals which is the reason why the breaker is tripping. You can also use a multimeter to detect the fluctuations but don’t forget to use safety tools.

Dirty Air Filter:

If the air filter of your air compressor isn’t changed for a lot of time, that means a lot of dirt accumulated in it is penetrating inside the air container which can cause bigger and more expensive damage to an air compressor. Plus, the dirty air compressor reduces the airflow and that means more power is required to maintain the airflow that causes the circuit breaker to trip. So, keep an eye on the air filter so that the dirt cannot go inside.

Grounded Disconnect Switch:

Another sneaky reason for a circuit breaker to trip is the grounded disconnect switch which is attached to a metal casing and also causes electrocution. Therefore, you should regularly maintain the disconnect switch to prevent the circuit breaker from tripping.

Faulty Circuit breaker: Finally, if you detect that there is a fault in the breaker, not in the air compressor. That’s when you need to get an electrician to do the critical work of replacing the old breaker with a new one. Another reason to detect the life of the breaker is the scorch marks on it.

So, we discussed different types of solutions so that you can understand the problem, see what is causing the tripping, and can figure out the right way to deal with it. I hope this article will solve your problem of the circuit breaker tripping by an air compressor. Just do the proper troubleshooting and inspection and you will figure out a solution.

About the author

Ghulam Ali

Ghulam Ali is a technology lover and loves to write about laptops, monitors, printers, tablets, and anything that's related to computers and games. He is passionate enough that he maintains this blog regarding tech updates on a daily basis.