Air Compressor Keeps Tripping Breaker – Read The Guide To Fix

A tripping breaker is an electrical issue that occurs due to various reasons in which your breaker keeps shut down after some time or within a few seconds. Breaker is an electrical safety circuit for your protection that keeps you safe from electricity shocks, faulty electrical instruments, or damaged electrical wiring. 

Breakers are located on the main board of your electrical circuits, and their work is only to shut down when there is a sudden oversupply of electricity. That shutdown is called tripping electricity, often due to bad electrical wire or faulty electrical instruments.

When diagnosing a tripping breaker, you should remember that there are two scenarios you will face. In this first case, when you plug the compressor and the breaker quickly trips, it is due to the shorted compressor. In the second case, if your breaker trips after some duration, the motor takes more amperage before turning on the unit, which overloads and trips the breaker. Don’t worry; we will discuss all possibilities for which an air compressor can trip the breaker.  

10 Causes of Tripping Breaker Due to an Air Compressor

1. Shorted Wire

It can be due to shorted or damaged wire in which you are plugging the air compressor. The damaged wire can’t maintain electricity when you plug it into your compressor. Sometimes, it shuts down the breaker within a few seconds due to the overuse of electricity.

Wire can be damaged due to many reasons such as old age, it comes under some heavy weight or sharp object and breaks, & due to the bitting of a rat.

Way to Fix

To resolve that issue, first of all, you have to check where the wire is damaged. For this purpose, you can use an electrical multimeter or electrical tracer instruments.

Another manual method is to shut down the air compressor and check where the wire is heating up or pressuring.

Once you have found the faulty wire, remove it and install a new wire in the same arrangements that it was before. Now you can use your air compressor without any problem.

2. Shorted Air Compressor Circuit

You may have an air compressor in which the circuit or wiring is shorted, making your breaker trip continuously whenever you turn on your unit. This can be due to the age of your compressor, maybe it is too old, and you haven’t done any maintenance on it for a long time. If it is new, it comes up with a faulty circuit, and you should claim a warranty. But you must check if the circuit and wiring is an old unit.

Way to Fix

You have to check your compressor’s circuit to see if it is shorted or working fine, while you also have to check if there is a damaged wire in the circuit. Once you find a faulty wire or a damaged circuit, replace it with a new one. After replacing, you can continue to use your compressor.

3. Shorted Motor of Compressor

The compressor’s shorted motor is another common reason for tripping the breaker. In this scenario, motor winding does not properly work, or it damages the coil of wire, and when electricity runs through that damaged coil, it gets shorted, which trips your breaker.

Another reason for a shorted motor is the powe usage. Due to a bad motor, the condenser fan won’t be able to provide the desired cooling; it forces the fan to use more electricity to make enough cooling. When the whole circuit uses high power over the limit, it trips the breaker.

Way to Fix

Find out if your condenser fan is running smoothly and moving with enough speed. It can make cooling; if it is not, you should remove the fan if it is damaged. After this, if the problem persists, you have to repair your shorted motor winding.

4. Shorted Extension

If your compressor is working fine and you have a good wiring circuit at home, and a tripping problem is occurring, it may be due to the damage or shorted extension you are using for your unit. When you plug in the extension cord and turn it on, it gets shorted and trips out the breaker.

Way to Fix

For shorted extensions, you need to remove the faulty extension and install a new extension cord so that it does not get shorted, and you can use your air compressor without any problem.

5. Bad Pressure Switch

While working on a project, sometimes you notice the air compressor trip breaker whenever you start filling the air in the empty tank. It may be due to a bad pressure switch because when the unit has a low-pressure level inside, the pressure switch turns on the system and refills the tank to reach cut-out pressure. If the wire or terminal inside the pressure switch unluckily makes contact with each other, it starts sparking and causes fluctuations in current and voltage. That’s why the breaker trips to prevent any further loss. Let’s learn how to fix this issue.

Way to Fix

First, unplug the power wire of the compressor from the wallet outlet and release all the pressure from the tank. Take a screwdriver and remove the top of the pressure switch to see everything inside. Don’t forget to wear safety goggles and insulated gloves to prevent any shock. Carefully, put the compressor power switch into the wall outlet to turn on the unit. Check if there any spark comes out when we provide the current. If yes, the pressure switch is bad, and you must replace it.

6. Shorted Plug Outlets

If you have checked the above factors in which your compressor is fine, good wiring, and good extension, then there may be a problem in outlets where you plug it in the switch of compressor or extension in the main electricity board. That outlet may be tripping the breaker due to damage or its point inside collapsing with each other, and it got shorted.

Way to Fix

You should turn off all appliances in the house, then take a multimeter and trace the outlet of your board which one is faulty. Manually you can trace faulty outlets by turning on them one by one and identifying which one is damaged. Once you detect the faulty outlet, remove it, and then you can use your compressor there.

7. Faulty Breaker

So, you don’t find any issue that your compressor is facing from the causes that we listed above. There must be a problem with the breaker; possibly you have a too old breaker installed in the circuit that is not being checked for a long time. It fails to manage the voltage fluctuations; that’s why the breaker gets tripped whenever you switch ON the compressor.

Way to Fix

We will never suggest you replace your breaker yourself to resolve this issue. Call the professional electrician, and they will safely replace the breaker for you.

  • Note: Replacing a faulty breaker is very important for your safety. As perhaps from air compressor you can get shocked due to faulty breaker so replace it as soon as possible.

8. Dirty Air Filters

A dirty air filter is another factor preventing dirty air from entering the compressor. It results in more power usage, and a time comes when the system overloads; it makes the unit short and trips the breaker.

Way to Fix

Dirty air filters can be clean or removed easily. You have to open the air filters from the compressor and check if it is in cleanable condition, but if it is in the worst condition, then you have to replace your filters with the new air filters. When you install the new ones, the tool won’t create any issues and will begin running smoothly.

9. Clogged Cylinder

Mostly, the air compressors won’t be able to bear weather conditions and gain rust too quickly. Some of them have a ton of grit inside the air pump cylinder that causes the piston not to move freely. When the piston faces friction while moving up and down, it heats the system and overdraws the power, which results in a tripping breaker.

Way to Fix

For the solution, you have to remove all the rust, dirt, or debris from the air cylinder. You can do all this process easier by following our compressor cleaning guide. If you find this work boring, you can hire a professional that will wipe out every single particle of dirt from the compressor. Once your unit becomes clean, it will not overdraw electricity and start doing the job again.

10. Faulty Capacitors

A capacitor is an electrical device that stores the miner voltage inside for starting up electrical devices. If your start/ run capacitor is faulty, the compressor blows up the fuse, which causes tripping.

Way to Fix

First of all, identify which capacitor is damaged, and for this purpose, you can look up which is heated or identify with a multimeter. After that, remove that capacitor and install a new one. If you don’t know about capacitors, we will recommend you to take help from an electrician.

Wrapping Up

We have listed the common reasons for breaker tripping. In this whole process, you have to follow all the safety measures. Especially when you want to check the circuit that involves current. Must wear safety gloves to avoid any severe shock. If you have a little idea about the compressor and the electrical circuits, you can easily fix all issues yourself. If you don’t know anything, we strongly recommend you to go for a professional.


Can a tripped breaker cause a fire?

Yes, a tripped breaker can cause a fire because breakers are made for cutting the electric connection when there is a sudden rise in the voltage. They continue working fine until there is a critical issue in the electric circuit. When breakers keep tripping, it overheats them, resulting in fire. So, always take it seriously when breaker trips, find out why and try to fix it quickly.

How many times can a breaker tip?

We cannot give a specific number that a breaker can trip. They are specially made for this purpose; usually, people face the tripping issue very rarely, and breakers continue working for years. You have to only worry about it when you feel any smell from the breaker section. It is overheating, and its the time to change the breaker.

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