If your air conditioner trips its breaker, then it means there is an electrical malfunction somewhere. Once you have confirmed that the AC is the problem -- for example, by resetting the breaker once -- you should switch off the AC until you can diagnose and resolve the problem. Below are some of the specific reasons an AC might trip its breaker.

Compressor Malfunction

The main function of the AC compressor is to circulate the refrigerant within the AC system. Refrigerant circulation is necessary for picking up heat in the house and dumping it outside. The compressor has a motor that runs on electricity. Therefore, several malfunctions of the compressor can lead to a tripped breaker. For example, the compressor can trip the breaker if a mechanical part of the compressor gets locked up, which would increase the operating current of the compressor and lead to a tripped breaker.

Fan Malfunction

The fan is another part of the AC that runs on electricity. A typical AC has two fans: one outside and another one inside the house. The outside fan gets air moving over the condenser coils so that the air can absorb heat in the refrigerant. The inside fan circulates warm air over the compressor coils so that the air can give up its heat to the refrigerant. A common malfunction occurs when the wires transmitting power to the fan assembly touch the casing, leading to a ground fault and tripping the breaker.

Wire Malfunction

A typical AC has multiple wires transmitting power to various parts. There are wires from the outlet to the AC, wires to the main board, ground wire, wires to the thermostat, and wires to the compressor motor, among others. Damage to any of these wires can lead to a short circuit that can trip the breaker. For example, if the AC overheats, the high temperatures might burn the insulation covering the wires, allowing two wires to touch and cause the inevitable short circuit.

Dirty AC

Dirt is bad for your AC; dirt accumulation in specific areas such as the coils, fan, and air filter is particularly dangerous. The dirt accumulation will interfere with air circulation and heat exchange, depending on the dirty parts of the AC. Either of those things can cause the AC to overwork as it struggles to keep your house cool. The result is that the AC might draw more power than it usually does, leading to a tripped circuit breaker.

If you notice these or any other AC malfunctions, contact an AC repair service in your area for more information.