Usually, this breaker problem is caused by a temporary condition such as a power surge from within your home or from the utility; the circuit breaker is simply doing its job by preventing too much current from flowing through your home’s electrical system. If you reset the breaker and your heating system works as normal, your equipment is probably fine.
But what if the furnace continues to trip your circuit? In that case, you probably have one of these four problems:
Your furnace is overburdened – An overworking furnace draws more electrical current than it should; if your furnace turns on and works for a while before tripping the breaker, overwork is the most likely reason.
Several factors can cause your furnace to overwork, including a dirty air filter, closed or blocked air vents, restricted ductwork, or 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 us.
The circuit is overloaded – A furnace should be on its own circuit, but sometimes – especially in older homes here in Rhode Island – 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 stops.
Your equipment has experienced a short circuit or ground fault – A furnace that starts up but immediately trips the breaker could be experiencing an electrical short circuit or a ground fault inside of the equipment itself (both are caused by a live wire that is exposed somewhere in your equipment). Both problems increase the amount of electrical current drawn by your furnace, which trips the breaker. Fixing a short circuit or ground fault is a job for a heating repair professional.
You have a faulty circuit breaker or panel – A fourth possibility is that the problem could have nothing whatsoever to do with your 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.