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Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: davec
Date: July 24, 2022 06:27PM
I'll do my best to be concise. How likely is it that a circuit breaker that has been tripped several times will become weak and more prone to tripping? Over the past 10 years this breaker has probably tripped 5- 7 times. This is the circuit breaker in the separate box that serves the outdoor central A/C unit. it is not the breaker in the service panel. This breaker is likely 35 to 45 years old. Does "old age" affect breakers? I did a Google search and there were differing opinions. I'd appreciate the input of the forum folk who have experience with and knowledge of circuit breakers.

Once the blower motor is oiled, I do an incantation and twirl a rubber chicken over my head the breaker will tend to work for several months.

Thanks!
Dave



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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: btfc
Date: July 24, 2022 06:33PM
“ How likely is it that a circuit breaker that has been tripped several times will become weak and more prone to tripping? “

Definitely possible.

Problems with aging AC components can also result in higher power draw.
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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: davec
Date: July 24, 2022 06:44PM
btfc- thank you! Is there a test that the tech can do to determine if the breaker is bad or is it wiser just to go ahead and replace it?

The central A/C system is probably 35 years old. The blower motor will go almost a year and then will trip the breaker. If I oil the blower motor and let it sit for 4 to 5 hours it *may* start and continue to operate fine for a bit less than a year. If I attempt to start the system 1 to 3 hours after oiling the motor it will immediately trip the breaker.

My thought is to have the A/C tech guy replace the circuit breaker. That sounds like it will be the logical next step.

Thanks!
Dave



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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: btfc
Date: July 24, 2022 06:58PM
The A/C tech guy should be able to test the load as the blower and compressor fire up. From your description this might be your issue.

Swapping out a breaker is usually fairly cheap and easy.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/24/2022 06:59PM by btfc.
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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: Golfer
Date: July 24, 2022 07:00PM
Every time a breaker trips it becomes a little weaker, however miniscule, along with time making it weaker. I'd change the blower motor while I was at it.
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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: gadje
Date: July 24, 2022 07:18PM
Quote
Golfer
Every time a breaker trips it becomes a little weaker, however miniscule, ...

I am curious. Do you have any sources backing this up?
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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: Bill in NC
Date: July 24, 2022 07:27PM
Quote
Golfer
Every time a breaker trips it becomes a little weaker, however miniscule, along with time making it weaker. I'd change the blower motor while I was at it.

A 35 year old motor is likely to be better built than anything one can find today.

Outside of A/C season I wonder if it can be rebuilt instead of replaced.
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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: davec
Date: July 24, 2022 07:41PM
btfc- thanks! I will ask him to test the load for the compressor and blower. Thank you for that suggestion.

Golfer- Thank You! There were a number of heating, A/C websites that indicated that breakers do become weaker when they have been tripped multiple times. Also, one site stated that circuit breakers may not function as well when they are old (40 years). I like the fact that this blower motor actually has oil ports on it! I know that many newer motors are "permanently lubricated" as certified by those manufacturer's resident unicorn. I will ask the tech about the possibility of rebuilding versus replacing at some point.

Bill in NC- I do appreciate your input too! I had a dehumidifier (purchased 1993) that the original blower motor had oil ports. That motor lasted over 12 years. The replacement motor was "permanently lubricated" and didn't even last 3 years! sad smiley

Thanks for the guidance and input!!

Dave



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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: btfc
Date: July 24, 2022 07:47PM
“ rebuilt “

Could be as simple as clean, lube, check the brushes.
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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: lost in space
Date: July 24, 2022 07:53PM
Quote
btfc
“ How likely is it that a circuit breaker that has been tripped several times will become weak and more prone to tripping? “

Definitely possible.

Problems with aging AC components can also result in higher power draw.

^this

The weak spot in old motors is start and sometimes run capacitors. Old motors can last forever, capacitors not so much. They can be replaced for much less than the cost of a motor, especially the compressor motor.



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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: davec
Date: July 24, 2022 07:54PM
btfc- thank you! I will definitely look into that! I can't imagine the heating, A/C company does that work, but perhaps they know of a place that does!

Thanks!
Dave



...on the trailing edge of technology.
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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: davec
Date: July 24, 2022 07:56PM
lost in space- I'm fairly certain the capacitor is the original (35 years old). Is there a way for the tech to test the capacitor?

Thanks!
Dave



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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: JoeH
Date: July 24, 2022 08:13PM
Quote
gadje
Quote
Golfer
Every time a breaker trips it becomes a little weaker, however miniscule, ...

I am curious. Do you have any sources backing this up?

No sources I currently can look up, just what I came across years ago. Breakers aging will depend on how often they trip and their design. But most often breakers have springs that after repeated cycles of tripping and being reset lose some of their tension. Then they start tripping at a lower amperage than designed for.

There are designs that minimize the wear on springs, but they tend to be more expensive.
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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: davec
Date: July 24, 2022 08:27PM
JoeH- thanks! I will definitely be asking to have the breaker replaced! I was lucky, as today only was in the 80's. Fortunately, the A/C was working fine through the 90's and 100's I had earlier!

Thanks!!
Dave



...on the trailing edge of technology.
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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: davester
Date: July 24, 2022 08:57PM
It is common knowledge that breakers weaken with multiple trips. It's a no-brainer to replace the breaker since it is cheap and a common failure point. Might not be your problem but just do it to rule it out.



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: mattkime
Date: July 24, 2022 09:07PM
I'd likely look at both things, both the breaker and the A/C unit. Both are old enough to need an inspection. Actually, correct that. Replace the breaker, inspect the ac.



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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: davec
Date: July 24, 2022 09:11PM
davester- Thanks! I will have the A/C tech replace that breaker.

mattkime- Thanks! I will have the tech check out the outdoor A/C unit as well.

I truly appreciate the input and guidance! I hope you have a great evening!

Dave



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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: gadje
Date: July 24, 2022 10:21PM
Quote
davester
It is common knowledge that breakers weaken with multiple trips. ...

Does a breaker weaken when it is manually switched OFF too?

Thanks
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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: July 24, 2022 10:22PM
What brand is it?
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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: testcase
Date: July 24, 2022 10:24PM
"Does "old age" affect breakers? "

YES.

As already mentioned, a circuit is easy to replace. There are "slow trip" circuit breakers that will allow a little more time than the usual instantaneous trip. At 35 years old, it's probably time for an upgrade to the whole A/C unit which today, should be significantly more efficient than the OEM unit.

[duckduckgo.com]
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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: Bernie
Date: July 25, 2022 04:24AM
A bad capacitor should't trip a breaker, but it could.
A new cap would make motor starting better and would be cheaper than the breaker.

We always start with the cap.




Staunton, Virginia
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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: macphanatic
Date: July 25, 2022 07:13AM
Quote
gadje
Quote
davester
It is common knowledge that breakers weaken with multiple trips. ...

Does a breaker weaken when it is manually switched OFF too?

Thanks

Not typically. In fact, in commercial settings, it is recommended to exercise breakers at least once a year to ensure that they operate properly.
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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: July 25, 2022 09:03AM
This is fascinating…. I’m going to replace my AC breaker. ( electricity does not scare me and I have appropriate safety equipment … I’ve replaced breakers and even re wired entire panels).
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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: davemchine
Date: July 25, 2022 09:26AM
The same thing happened at my house. The breaker kept tripping every time the air conditioner came on which led me to believe the air conditioner had a problem and needed replacing. But first I had an electrician check the rated draw from the air conditioner unit and compared it to the breaker. Turns out the breaker was undersized. This worked for many years when the air conditioner was working perfectly but as it aged it started to draw more power and it tripped the breaker. So I was able to replace the breaker with an appropriate sized one and the problem went away.



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Re: Circuit breaker for A/C seems to trip easy- replace?
Posted by: davec
Date: July 25, 2022 01:35PM
Good Afternoon! The input, guidance and insights are truly appreciated. The A/C tech came out and, after listening patiently to my past experiences with the A/C unit, did agree that replacing the breaker (30 amp) was appropriate. He explained the reason why the A/C unit would immediately trip the breaker when attempting to restart when only 1 to 2 hours had passed. He did inspect the outdoor unit during the start-up and had no concerns for the start-up or the blower motor. He was not able to test the start-up load as the breaker for the A/C was in a separate box and whoever installed that breaker had cut the wires too short to access.

Overall, I feel fairly confident that the new breaker is the solution (((knocking on wood))). smiling smiley

Again, your input has been sincerely appreciated! I hope you have a truly outstanding day!

Dave



...on the trailing edge of technology.
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