Why Is My Furnace Tripping the Circuit Breaker?
If you’ve owned your furnace long enough, chances are you have experienced it tripping your circuit breaker.
This is a good thing: your circuit breaker is designed to protect the wiring in your Maryland home from electrical overloads and the fires that can result from them. More often than not, the breaker trips due to a temporary power surge; if you reset the breaker and it doesn’t trip again, your circuit and your furnace are probably fine.
But what does it mean if the circuit associated with your furnace keeps tripping? If that’s the case, you’ve got one of four possible problems:
- An overworked furnace
- An overloaded shared circuit
- Short circuit or ground fault inside your furnace
- Circuit breaker problems
We will explore each in greater detail below.
Possibility 1: An overworked furnace – An overworked furnace draws electrical current than it would under normal conditions; if your furnace turns on, works for a short while then trips the breaker, this is likely the problem.
Several factors can cause your furnace to overwork, including:
- A dirty air filter
- Closed or blocked air vents
- Restricted ductwork
- A malfunctioning part
Check and change your air filter, free blocked air vents, and inspect visible ductwork for obvious kinks and blockages; if doing all this does not stop your circuit breaker problem, contact a heating repair professional.
Possibility 2: An overloaded circuit – Ideally, a furnace should be on its own circuit. But sometimes – especially in older homes – this is not the case. Running your furnace and another appliance on the same circuit can easily overload it; try removing the other appliance from the circuit and see if the problem goes away.
Possibility 3: A short circuit or ground fault in your furnace – A furnace that starts up but immediately trips the breaker can be caused by an electrical short circuit (when a bare hot wire comes in contact with a neutral wire) or a ground fault inside of the furnace itself (when a bare hot wire touches a ground wire or some other grounded part in your furnace). Short circuits and ground faults greatly increase the amount of electrical current drawn by your furnace, which trips the breaker. To fix the problem, you need to address the source of the problem inside your equipment; contact a furnace repair professional for help.
Possibility 4: A malfunctioning circuit breaker or panel – The problem could have nothing at all to do with the furnace; it could be a problem with the circuit breaker or electrical panel itself. Consult a professional electrician to make sure repairs are made and managed safely and correctly.