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Heating, Air Conditioning, Fridge, HVAC/Trane heat pump - tripping breaker


QUESTION: Hello Craig,

I am looking for some advice before calling in a repairman.

I have a Trane heat pump. If needed I can get you the model number. Most of the time it works great with one exception.  

During the middle of winter, when the heat strips are working, the outside compressor unit will trip the breaker in my garage.  This only seems to happen when the heat strips are being used.  The heat pump works great in warmer weather +40F or so as well as an AC unit during the summer.  Since I am not outside on a regular basis, it may take a month before I discover that the breaker has tripped.   I live in North Carolina and the lowest temp that we may see is 0 F once or twice in the winter otherwise it is about 28 - 35 F outside

Since the compressor seems to be working OK.  What else could be the problem.  Isn't there an anti-icing mode, could this be the cause?  Any advice would be appreciated.



ANSWER: I have a quick question...  When the breaker trips, does is also shut down the air handler, or are the air handler and condensing unit on separate breakers?

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QUESTION: No, the air handler still works.  We still have heat in the house but I suspect only because the expensive heat strips are working.  So yes I guess they are on two separate circuits.

That's good.  I just wanted to make sure, I have seen/heard of cases where they are tied together.  
At this point it can be hard to figure out what is wrong, as it does not happen all the time is seems.  Your heatpump does have defrost.  The defrost mode cause the unit to go into cool mode, expect it turns off the outdoor fan and turns on the heat strips during the defrost cycle.  It could be tripping when it goes into defrost.  Some units cycle the compressor off when it goes into defrost, while other leave the compressor running.  The compressor may need hard start kit installed to keep the breaker from tripping.  You may even be having a reduction in voltage when the strips are on, thus causing the compressor to overload.  


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Craig HVAC Expert


I have been in the HVAC field for the past 18 years. I can help with most HVAC questions. I work on commerical buildings for the most part, and have yet to find anything I could not troubleshoot and repair, when repairable. I work on small 1 ton units to a 2500 ton chiller. Troubleshoot air flow, elect, and control problems. I attend regular classes to keep up with the latest and greatest.


I work on commerical sites, hospitals, gov't buildings. I can troubleshoot just about anything in the HVAC business.

5 years trade school, VFD training classes, Liebert factory training, some York and Trane factory training.

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