For homeowners with central air conditioning, the time is rapidly approaching where you're going to be turning on your air conditioning unit for the season. However, what happens if you turn on the system this summer and suddenly you find that it's tripping a circuit breaker? Here's a look at what you need to know about your central air conditioning system and tripped breakers.

Is It A One-Time Or Recurring Problem?

The first thing that you need to consider is whether the tripped breaker is a one-time occurrence or a repeated problem. That means resetting the breaker after your air conditioner trips it the first time and watching to see what happens.

If it doesn't trip the breaker again, chances are good that it was just a one-off situation. Be mindful of how your air conditioning system is running, but don't panic about it at this point. However, if your central air conditioner trips the breaker again shortly after you reset it, it's important that you determine the problem.

How Do You Troubleshoot It?

The first thing that you need to do when you're dealing with a central air conditioner that's tripping a breaker is to shut the system off. Turn off the power to your air conditioning unit and then reset the breaker to restore power flow to the circuit. Don't turn your air conditioner back on until you've isolated the cause of the problem.

If this isn't the first year with this air conditioning unit, you can pretty much eliminate the possibility that the breaker's amp rating is insufficient for the air conditioner. However, if this is your first year with this unit, you should talk with your air conditioning services technician about testing the breaker to be sure that it supports sufficient amps for your air conditioner.

You should also clean the air filter. When the air filter is clogged, your air conditioner won't be getting enough air into the system. This causes the system to work harder, drawing more power. This often can trip a breaker when the breaker supports just enough amps for the unit.

If the filter is clean, you should check around the outdoor condenser unit. Make sure that the unit is clear around it. Leaves, debris, and other materials blocking airflow around the unit can cause the same problems as a dirty air filter. Take time to clear anything away from the unit that might be blocking the air.

When you've tried all of these things without resolving the problem, there's a good chance that your air conditioning system may have a short. You'll need to reach out to an air conditioning service to have the unit inspected and repaired.