Does your central air conditioner trip the circuit breaker nearly every time the unit is running? The problem might seem like a major electrical issue but there could be more basic problems at play. There are a couple of quick checks you can make to diagnose the problem.

You should still call in an air conditioning repair company for further diagnosis and part replacement. That's because the problem sometimes is a major electrical issue that you won't want to tackle on your own.

Here are a few of the potential causes of an air conditioning unit that constantly trips the breaker.

Overheating Due to Dirty Condenser Coils

A central air conditioner sometimes trips the breaker to essentially save itself from permanent damage related to overheating. There are a couple of common causes of frequent overheating. One of those causes is as simple as dirty condenser coils in the condensing unit.

The condensing coils take in gas refrigerant, which is pumped by the compressor, and convert that gas to a liquid. The conversion process requires circulating air and balanced temperatures since the surface of the coils will become hot. Dirt on the surface of the coils can cause the chemical change to make the coils overly hot, which trips the breaker to prevent overheating.

You can check to see if the coils are dirty by turning off all power to the unit, removing the access panel, and conducting a visual inspection of the coils. If the coils look severely dirty or damaged, call in a HVAC cooling technician for a service call.

Overheating Due to Blown Fan Motor

If the coils look clean, there's another potential culprit for overheating. A failed or failing blower fan motor can prevent the coils from receiving enough circulating air to regulate the temperature, which causes the coils to overheat and the breaker to trip.

You can check the fan motor by simply standing next to the condensing unit while the unit is running. Do you hear the fan running at all? Does the fan sound like it is moving as fast as it used to? If the answer to either of these questions is "no," you likely need a new fan motor. Call an air conditioning repair company, like Hudson Hdwe Plumbing & Heating Inc or a similar location, for the part replacement.

Hard Starting or Grounded Compressor

Overheating coils aren't always the cause since the system can run into issues before the coils even have a chance to start refrigerant conversion. The compressor is the first step in the condensing unit and problems with the compressor can cause the breaker to trip.

The two main problems are hard starting and grounding. Hard starting means that the compressor doesn't get the electrical boost it needs to get running properly so it stutters then fails. Your HVAC technician might be able to install a hard start capacitor to fix that problem or else replace the compressor with a stronger model.

Grounding is a more serious problem that occurs when a wire comes loose inside the compressor and shorts out the part. This problem requires a new compressor and likely will require the technician to replace the system's refrigerant, which can become contaminated due to the grounding.