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Why does my furnace keep tripping my circuit breaker?

Every once in a great while it is common for your furnace to trip your circuit breaker. When this happens on a rare occasion it is usually caused by a power surge or spike in energy during a thunderstorm. If your furnace trips your breaker and it happens only once you are probably fine. This issue is when your circuits keep getting trigged and you have to reset it. If this situation describes what you are going through, it is time to call a professional because something is wrong with your furnace.

The most common reasons your furnace trips your breaker.

It is important to remember that your circuit breaker is a safety protocol. It is designed to help prevent electrical fires by shutting off the power to lines that are having a surge of electrical current. Each wire is designed to handle a certain amp level, and if that level is surpassed they begin to have a risk of melting, overheating or even igniting.

  1. Your furnace is overworked. Every furnace is designed to operate at a certain level and pull a certain number of current in order to function properly. If your furnace is now allowed to operate within its designed parameters, it will have to work harder and use more electricity to do so. If you are running your furnace in your home or business and it quickly shuts off after running for only a short time, it is usually because your heating unit is being overworked. Issues that will commonly cause this problem like this are dirty filters, closed or blocked vents, restricted air ducts or a malfunctioning part of the furnace.
  2. An overloaded or shared circuit. Your heating unit should be placed on its’ own circuit. However, older homes in the Salt Lake valley, particularly in older areas like Sugarhouse or The Avenue, were not always wired this way. You may notice that your circuit triggers when you are running your furnace, while at the same time using too much power in the rest of your house. An example of this could be running several appliances at the same time. There are ways to fix this problem, it is best to call a heating company near you to fix the issue.
  3. Your furnace is having a short circuit or grounding error in your furnace. When this happens we again see a situation where your furnace immediately starts up, but trips the breaker and shuts off within minutes. There are two different situations that we must consider. This first is a short circuit. This occurs when a bare wire comes in contact with a neutral wire. The second situation is a ground fault. This occurs when a bare wire comes in contact with a grounded wire or another part of the unit that is grounded. These situations can happen when a part malfunctions, a repair has been done incorrectly, or a rodent has been chewing on the wires.
open-circuit-breaker-panel

One final thought about a short-circuiting furnace.

Although it can be tempting to ignore problems with your furnace and simply flick the breaker back on, you should not keep doing this. The main reason this is a safety concern and fire hazard. Secondly, whenever your furnace overloads and then instantly gets shut-off it is not good for the heating unit. It is highly recommended that you call a professional and get this issue fixed once and for all. The weather is unseasonably warm right now so it is easy to ignore a malfunctioning furnace. However right now is the best time to call a professional. People tend to flood the phone lines when it is freezing so it is in your favor to call while it is warm because you can usually get same day service.

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