Help! My Furnace Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping

HVAC Logo IconBy Tom MoorOctober 24, 2023


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Person switching on circuit breaker on panel board after it tripped due to overcurrent.

Throughout the colder months, your furnace plays a crucial role in maintaining your family’s warmth and safety. However, when your furnace constantly shuts down due to a tripped circuit breaker, it can lead to an uncomfortably cold home and disrupt your family’s comfort. Keep reading as explains the common causes of a tripped furnace circuit breaker and how to address these situations.

Common Causes of a Furnace Breaker That Keeps Tripping

If your furnace breaker keeps tripping, several issues could be at play, including aging wires, an electrical overload, or short circuits. Some of the most common causes include:

Aging Wires

Old and deteriorated wires are not only a fire hazard, but they can also cause the circuit breaker for your furnace to trip. It’s crucial to have your furnace tuned up once a year in the fall to check the condition of all the electrical components and wiring.

Faulty Breaker

With regular maintenance and proper usage, circuit breakers can last 30 to 40 years. However, circuit breakers can become faulty over time due to issues including manufacturing defects, consistently high electrical loads, and physical damage. If your HVAC technician or electrician determines the breaker is faulty, they can replace it with a new circuit for about $150 to $300. It’s also a good idea to check the overall condition of the circuit breaker panel to inspect for any potential issues.

Electrical Overload

An electrical overload can occur when the furnace and other electrical devices draw too much current, causing the circuit to overload and trip the breaker. Furnaces should ideally have their own dedicated circuit to ensure safety and prevent overloads on the electrical system.

Short Circuits

If the heater trips the breaker after a few minutes, it could be short cycling. A short circuit happens when a hot wire contacts a neutral or ground wire, creating a surge of current that trips the breaker as a safety precaution. If this issue occurs in your home, contact a professional to check and repair damaged or exposed wiring.

Clogged Furnace Filter

A clogged and dirty furnace filter can lead to various problems, including tripping a circuit breaker. When the filter becomes clogged, it restricts airflow to your furnace, forcing the system to work harder and potentially overheat, which can result in a tripped circuit breaker.

Motor Issues

Worn-out wiring within the blower motor can cause an increase in electrical demands, overloads, arcing, and short circuits, leading to a furnace breaker that keeps tripping. Installing a new blower motor, including installation, costs about $550. Blocked vents can also raise the air pressure inside the HVAC system, increasing stress on the blower motor, and causing an overloaded circuit that trips frequently.

Leaky Air Ducts

It’s estimated that as much as 20 to 30% of conditioned air is lost through leaky or poorly insulated air ducts. This causes your furnace to work harder and longer to reach the set temperature, raising your energy bills and potentially leading to a tripped breaker.

What To Do if Your Furnace Breaker Keeps Tripping?

If your furnace breaker keeps tripping, it’s important to take swift action. A tripped circuit breaker disrupts the electrical supply to the furnace, leading to a temporary loss of heating. This typically occurs as a safety mechanism to prevent electrical overloads or short circuits that could potentially lead to fires or damage to the furnace.

To resolve the issue, the circuit breaker must be manually reset by flipping it back to the “on” position. However, it’s crucial to determine the underlying cause of the tripped breaker, as it may be due to electrical overloads, faulty components, or other issues. If the problem is recurrent or the heater trips the breaker after a few minutes consistently, contact a heating and cooling professional to identify and address the root cause to prevent further disruptions in your heating system.



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