I think I know what's going on here, but I want the experts to weigh in....
Four years ago in Spring, I switch my 1997 Heat Pump to A/C and it kicks its outside circuit breaker for the first time. I have it serviced by a reputable, local company, it's a little low the tech says, puts 2 lbs of R-22 in it (Ruud UPGB-037JAZ).
A couple months later I have problems with the system, call them again, they replace a bad ICM203B Time Delay.
The outside circuit breaker keeps kicking, so I call again and this time get a Supco Model No SPP6 "Solid state relay and hard start capacitor". I'm warned the compressor won't last forever.
Things get better with the circuit breaker, but it still needs to be reset on occasion. In particular, switching from heat to cooling mode is a 100% guaranteed circuit breaker kicker. This is a real pain in the Spring and Fall.
I have the system serviced each year, curiously it doesn't lose any more refrigerant.
Fast forward almost four years, and I'm increasingly unhappy with the HP. The circuit breaker isn't a problem in heat mode, but it runs all the time, blows cold air and resorts to electric backup often. My bills are high. As an A/C it works fine, so I have a Rheem mod installed in a dual fuel setup. When the pro tears apart my system, low and behold, the old A Coil is covered with lint like a sheet of felt. We clean it up and he puts it over my new mod.
Gas heat works great. Heat pump blows warm. I like the VS fan. Life is good.
Warm weather comes, I start the A/C. Guess what?
No circuit breaker trips! Hot days, cold nights, I'm switching back and forth from heat to A/C (not just for comfort, I'm wringing out the new/old system on purpose). Guess what? Still no circuit breaker trips.
I come to find out (here on this board) that the coated A coil situation was detectable by checking superheat/subcool temps along with pressures. No one ever did that. OK, that I understand. Adding coolant just masked the actual problem.
So my questions are:
1. Do overfull systems trip the circuit breaker more, or reduced airflow systems, or both?
2. Is there some other possible cause for tripping the circuit breaker, such as (just guessing here) the reversing valve being sticky, the old control board, or something? Would those other possibilities suddenly get better after the furnace install?
3. I realize that no system lasts forever, but I'm thinking my 11 year old 13 SEER system might last quite a bit longer with a.) a clean A-coil, b.) the proper amount of R-22, and c.) a gas furnace to do the heavy lifting in cold weather... no?
4. Isn't this some kind of self-rewarding bad behaviour going on here? A tech adds refrigerant, comes back with the capacitor, problems persist, hey, system's old (yes), leaking refrigerant (not really), throwing breakers (overfull), you need a complete new system... ?