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Why Is My Heater Tripping the Circuit Breaker?

electricians-circuit-breaker-panelWhen the lights in your house suddenly shut off, what’s the first thing you do? Check the electrical panel to see if a circuit breaker has tripped. You’ve probably had to reset a few circuit breakers to deal with lights going out like this. But have you recently started resetting breakers because the heating system has tripped them? Having to do it once during the winter is not a big deal. When it becomes a routine job because the heater keeps tripping the breaker over and over, it may be time for a heating repair in Clayton, NC from our pros.

Why You’re Having This Trouble

A circuit breaker trips because of an increased demand for voltage the circuit cannot handle. When the breaker switch trips, it cuts off voltage flow through the circuit to protect the electrical system. There are various sources for a voltage rise from a furnace or heat pump:

  • Clogged air filter: Many heating system troubles start with this simple problem. When the air filter for a furnace or heat pump remains in place for three months or more, it becomes clogged with dust, lint, and dander. This forces the blower fan to work harder and overload the circuit for the blower fan motor. Change to filter for a clean one, then make the change on a regular basis every one to three months.
  • Blocked vents: Walk around the rooms to check on each vent. If vents are closed or blocked with furniture, the air pressure will rise in the system and lead to a circuit overload. Closing vents is not an effective way to save money or create zone control.
  • Tight compressor in a heat pump: A compressor that has lost lubrication will become “tight,” forcing the compressor motor to overheat and overload the circuit. This is a serious situation, since a burnt-out compressor must be replaced—and this is costly enough that people usually prefer to replace the heat pump entirely rather install a new compressor.
  • Blower won’t turn off: The blower fan for a furnace or heat pump might cycle continuously without shutting off. This may be a thermostat problem or a damage electrical relay. The constant stress can lead to a circuit breaker tripping—and this is the circuit breaker doing its job, because you don’t want the blower running all the time.
  • Leaking ventilation system: Air holes in the ductwork cause many problems, and one of them is an increase in stress on the blower motor, triggering overheating and a tripped circuit breaker. Professionals can seal up the leaks to restore the ventilation system to airtightness.
  • Electrical problems: This is a catch-all for loose and frayed wires and bad connections on the control panel for a heat pump or furnace. Any of these electrical issues can cause a short-circuit that will trip the breaker.

Keep in mind that a gas-powered furnace can trip a breaker as easily as an electric heating system. A gas furnace burns natural gas to create heat, but relies on electricity for many other functions.

Comfort Master Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. serves the Triangle Area of North Carolina. Schedule repair service today.

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