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Thread: Who should I hire - AC tripping circuit breaker

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    Who should I hire - AC tripping circuit breaker

    I moved into this house 5 years ago and the AC (Trane XV80) did not have a problem. Last year July 2021, when it started getting hot in CA, we started turning on the AC and it suddenly started tripping the circuit breaker. The fans would run but the condenser would shut down. I called in a local HVAC professional who checked the condenser and didn't find anything wrong. All he could determine that the connection on the breaker was getting hot and he applied Ideal NOALOX Anti-Oxidant Joint Compound over there. This seem to have solved the problem and we did not have any problem until yesterday when the temperature was close to 100F. The breaker tripped around 6PM with the fans running. I have not reset the breaker nor turned on the AC since. I believe the house has aluminum wiring.

    Can someone enlighten me what the problem could be and if I should call an electrician or a HVAC professional to fix this permanently.

  2. #2
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    An AC technician should be able to measure current to see if it is exceeding the rating of the equipment. He should also confirm that the correct size breaker is being used. I respect electricians but I don't expect them to diagnose HVAC equipment.

    It is regrettable that many technicians are not adequately trained so you may need to call a different company.
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    Assuming that you have Aluminum wire you may just need to have someone come in and retighten it.

    I don't have a lot of experience with it but they say that new connections should be retorqued after a year I believe.

    It sounds like the tech you had was competent so why not call them back rather than going new company.

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    How can I tell if correct size breaker is being used? I would assume that a correct size is being used because after application of NoAlOx which removes oxidation from Aluminum wire at contact point, the AC was working fine for several months.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bbsbucket View Post
    How can I tell if correct size breaker is being used? I would assume that a correct size is being used because after applicatyion of NoAlOx which removes oxidation from Aluminum wire at contact point, the AC was working fine for several months.
    The rating plate on the outdoor unit will specify an MOP - Maximum Overcurrent Protection. That is the correct size for the breaker.
    *********
    https://www.hvac20.com/ High efficiency equipment alone does not provide home comfort and efficiency. HVAC2.0 is a process for finding the real needs of the house and the occupants. Offer the customer a menu of work to address their problems and give them a probability of success.

    Find contractors with specialized training in combustion analysis, residential system performance, air flow, and duct optimization https://www.myhomecomfort.org/


    Site member map HERE!

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    Quote Originally Posted by bbsbucket View Post
    How can I tell if correct size breaker is being used? I would assume that a correct size is being used because after applicatyion of NoAlOx which removes oxidation from Aluminum wire at contact point, the AC was working fine for several months.
    Look on the model plate of the unit. It will have a Min circuit amps and max breaker listed. The breaker will have an amp rating usually on the handle. Min amps will be lower than max breaker. The breaker should be at or just below what it listed. It may have like a 45 A breaker listed as max which is an odd size so they may have put in a 40 A for example.

    The bigger question in my mind would be is the wire big enough. AL wire needs to be bigger than CU wire and the terminals have to be rated for AL wire.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BNME8EZ View Post
    Assuming that you have Aluminum wire you may just need to have someone come in and retighten it.

    I don't have a lot of experience with it but they say that new connections should be retorqued after a year I believe.

    It sounds like the tech you had was competent so why not call them back rather than going new company.
    Yes, that is what I was thinking about. He did check out the condenser unit throughly and was able to determine that there is nothing wrong with it. He didn't even charge me anything more than a service call fee.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BNME8EZ View Post
    Look on the model plate of the unit. It will have a Min circuit amps and max breaker listed. The breaker will have an amp rating usually on the handle. Min amps will be lower than max breaker. The breaker should be at or just below what it listed. It may have like a 45 A breaker listed as max which is an odd size so they may have put in a 40 A for example.

    The bigger question in my mind would be is the wire big enough. AL wire needs to be bigger than CU wire and the terminals have to be rated for AL wire.
    Thanks for the guidance. The breaker is 50 (two-pole) but I could not find any plate on the outside unit. It looks very ancient. I have reset the breaker and will turn on AC again. If it fails, I will call the same technician and have him re-evaluate how to really fix this problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bbsbucket View Post
    I moved into this house 5 years ago and the AC (Trane XV80) did not have a problem. Last year July 2021, when it started getting hot in CA, we started turning on the AC and it suddenly started tripping the circuit breaker. The fans would run but the condenser would shut down. I called in a local HVAC professional who checked the condenser and didn't find anything wrong. All he could determine that the connection on the breaker was getting hot and he applied Ideal NOALOX Anti-Oxidant Joint Compound over there. This seem to have solved the problem and we did not have any problem until yesterday when the temperature was close to 100F. The breaker tripped around 6PM with the fans running. I have not reset the breaker nor turned on the AC since. I believe the house has aluminum wiring.

    Can someone enlighten me what the problem could be and if I should call an electrician or a HVAC professional to fix this permanently.
    I did not notice your mention of aluminum wire when I first read the post. I would be surprised if the circuit to the condenser is aluminum. To my knowledge, it was mostly used for receptacles and lights. Service cable is often aluminum but I can't recall ever seeing it used to a machine.
    How old is your house?

    Could you post a picture of your condensing unit? We may be able to identify it.
    *********
    https://www.hvac20.com/ High efficiency equipment alone does not provide home comfort and efficiency. HVAC2.0 is a process for finding the real needs of the house and the occupants. Offer the customer a menu of work to address their problems and give them a probability of success.

    Find contractors with specialized training in combustion analysis, residential system performance, air flow, and duct optimization https://www.myhomecomfort.org/


    Site member map HERE!

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    How old is the system? if you don’t know the serial number on the outdoor unit will tell you or on the electrical data plate ( if it’s not faded away ) may say. Could be many things, electrical connections needing tightening, contactor pitted severely, may need a start assist kit at this stage, weak capacitors, burned wires at compressor terminals, or burned wire tips in general, weak breaker, outdoor fan motor shutting off, not having a 5 minute off cycle time delay, the list goes on and on.

    If breaker trips intermittent, may need a seasoned Tech. to increase chance of finding issue(s) ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bbsbucket View Post
    I moved into this house 5 years ago and the AC (Trane XV80) did not have a problem. Last year July 2021, when it started getting hot in CA, we started turning on the AC and it suddenly started tripping the circuit breaker. The fans would run but the condenser would shut down. I called in a local HVAC professional who checked the condenser and didn't find anything wrong. All he could determine that the connection on the breaker was getting hot and he applied Ideal NOALOX Anti-Oxidant Joint Compound over there. This seem to have solved the problem and we did not have any problem until yesterday when the temperature was close to 100F. The breaker tripped around 6PM with the fans running. I have not reset the breaker nor turned on the AC since. I believe the house has aluminum wiring.

    Can someone enlighten me what the problem could be and if I should call an electrician or a HVAC professional to fix this permanently.
    Just for clarity the Trane XV80 sounds like the furnace not an A/C. The current XV 80 is a 80%, 2-stg, VS furnace.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kdean1 View Post
    I did not notice your mention of aluminum wire when I first read the post. I would be surprised if the circuit to the condenser is aluminum. To my knowledge, it was mostly used for receptacles and lights. Service cable is often aluminum but I can't recall ever seeing it used to a machine.
    How old is your house?

    Could you post a picture of your condensing unit? We may be able to identify it.
    The house was built in 1973 and I was told that the wiring is Aluminum. I have attached the picture of outside unit.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    Quote Originally Posted by BNME8EZ View Post
    Just for clarity the Trane XV80 sounds like the furnace not an A/C. The current XV 80 is a 80%, 2-stg, VS furnace.
    Trane XV80 is the unit in the garage where the air enters from the house via Honeywell air filters. This is the unit which blows the air back into the house too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bazooka Joe View Post
    How old is the system? if you don’t know the serial number on the outdoor unit will tell you or on the electrical data plate ( if it’s not faded away ) may say. Could be many things, electrical connections needing tightening, contactor pitted severely, may need a start assist kit at this stage, weak capacitors, burned wires at compressor terminals, or burned wire tips in general, weak breaker, outdoor fan motor shutting off, not having a 5 minute off cycle time delay, the list goes on and on.

    If breaker trips intermittent, may need a seasoned Tech. to increase chance of finding issue(s) ?
    I'm afraid I don't see any lettering or labels on the outside until and I have no idea how old the unit is. Last year, the tech opened up the outside unit and measured various things which I don't know anything about. He mentioned that there is nothing wrong with this unit and then proceeded to use NoAlOx at the connector in the breaker box. The unit worked just fine for about a year and suddenly quit last night. Will try again this evening and if it trips the breaker, I will have to call him again and ask him to investigate a bit more rather than just using NoAlOx.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bbsbucket View Post
    The house was built in 1973 and I was told that the wiring is Aluminum. I have attached the picture of outside unit.
    Kinda looks like an old Goodman/Janitrol. The model plate is probably under the control box mounted to the side.

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    With a noisy Bristol reciprocating compressor ( especially when they came out of defrost ) if it’s still original from what I remember “if” it’s a Goodman/Janitrol the one we worked on ( Heat Pump models ) had the vapor line mounted high ( on the side of the unit ) and the liquid line mounted much lower or vise versa instead of both next to each other and mounted low for the lineset hookups.
    Last edited by Bazooka Joe; 08-10-2022 at 03:46 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bbsbucket View Post
    Trane XV80 is the unit in the garage where the air enters from the house via Honeywell air filters. This is the unit which blows the air back into the house too.
    Does that mean I will have to open up the side unit to find that information?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kdean1 View Post
    I did not notice your mention of aluminum wire when I first read the post. I would be surprised if the circuit to the condenser is aluminum. To my knowledge, it was mostly used for receptacles and lights. Service cable is often aluminum but I can't recall ever seeing it used to a machine.
    How old is your house?

    Could you post a picture of your condensing unit? We may be able to identify it.
    AL is still ran to condensers, and stoves, on a fairly regular basis.

    Most service drops are still AL.

    That being said, when i ran my new drop at my house, i used copper.



    As far the original issue, did your hvac guy say to call sparky if it happened again?

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  22. #19
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    The info on the outdoor unit is probably gone.

    Goodman/Janitrol of that vintage were notorious for using a printed label for that info. it was printed on foil and stuck to the cabinet.

    Over the years weather and sun faded the printing to barely readable, at best.

    Then a tech would want those numbers and thinking he could wipe it and clear it up a bit wiped off what was left now you just have a shiny aluminum sticker.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BNME8EZ View Post
    Kinda looks like an old Goodman/Janitrol.
    Yup. It looks like the CPJ series - see attachment.

    The 4 ton version of this had a MOP of 50 amps.
    Attached Images Attached Images
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