Electrical Question about a HVAC Unit That Trips The Circuit Breaker
How to Locate Problems with an HVAC System: Common Problems with HVAC, Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning Units
How to Troubleshoot an HVAC and Air Conditioner
Question: Last fall my HVAC unit worked fine, the heat worked fine.
- Now when I turn on the air unit it blows the breaker.
- As soon as you reset the breaker it blows immediately.
- Can you tell me what the problem might be.
Background: Fay, a Homeowner from Burlington, Iowa.
Thanks for your electrical question Fay.
How to Locate Problems with an HVAC System
- Application: Troubleshooting – Testing Electrical Circuit Wiring.
- Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best performed by a Licensed Electrician.
- Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and Voltage Tester or Continuity Tester.
- Estimated Time: Depends on experience and level of problem solving skills.
- Precaution: Testing live wires is dangerous and should be done by an experienced individual only. Testing using a continuity tester should only be made after the circuit has been identified and turned OFF and Tagged.
Common Problems with HVAC, Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning Units
- Because the heat function of the HVAC unit works then It sounds like there is a problem with the air conditioning components or wiring to these components.
- There could be a problem in the area where the control relay is located.
- If the circuit breaker trips immediately that is typically an indication that there may be a direct short circuit to ground.
- An inspection of the controls area, junction box or wiring termination cabinet would be necessary to look for any visual indication of the cause or problem.
- When a unit such as this trips the circuit breaker immediately there will usually be visual indications of burnt or charred wiring in the area where the problem is.
- Another possibility is that the main wiring leading to the unit has been damaged somewhere between the electrical panel and the unit.
- There are several electrical testing methods that can be used to check each individual wire for continuity to ground or to another wire within the circuit to isolate and evaluate the problem further.
- Once the problem is discovered it will be necessary to find the cause and make the necessary repairs. This is where a qualified HVAC Service Technician will be required.
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Be Careful and Be Safe – Never Work on Energized Circuits!
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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wiring!The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester, [amazon.com], I use for the detection of Standard Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.
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