It can feel irritating and troublesome when your circuit breaker trips, especially when it seems like the furnace is the source of the problem. If your breaker trips only once or twice and regular operation resumes once it’s reset, there may not be a sudden cause for distress. Oftentimes, in these cases, surprise power surges are likely the culprits. But if your breaker often trips or multiple times, whether it’s with an electric furnace or gas furnace, the issue shouldn’t be ignored. Even if your furnace is gas-fired, it uses electricity to operate several components. Before you schedule a repair, consider the most common reasons your furnace might be tripping the circuit breaker, as outlined here by our HVAC technicians with Spoor’s Heating & Air Conditioning.

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An Overloaded Furnace

If your furnace starts up for a brief time before throwing out your home or business’ breaker, the issue may be weak airflow due to an overloaded furnace. When your air filters accumulate dirt, dust, and debris, and your air vents are blocked by obstructions or closed, your furnace must work harder to meet your heating demands. The resulting electrical draw can overload your heating system, straining the circuit and flipping the breaker. If you suspect the issue might be an overloaded furnace, you can try to restore uninterrupted airflow by swapping out your air filter and opening all air registers. You should also ensure no air registers or vents are blocked by furniture, rugs, or other obstructions and avoid leaning anything against the furnace.

A Short Circuit Or Ground Fault

If your furnace flips the circuit breaker as soon as it starts up, this could be an electric issue occurring within the furnace itself. There might be an exposed wire shorting the circuit when it comes into contact with a neutral wire, or it comes into contact with a grounded wire or metallic object. In either situation, the electrical draw can be affected enough to trip the circuit breaker. If your issue is due to a short circuit or ground fault, or if you are unsure of the problem’s source, it's best to contact professional HVAC technicians, such as those with Spoor's Heating & Air Conditioning, to identify and resolve the issue.

An Overloaded Circuit

HVAC equipment and related appliances function at their best when used on a dedicated circuit, though this may not be possible in older homes and commercial buildings. If your furnace trips your breaker several times, the issue could be an overloaded circuit. You should inspect the labels on your electrical panel to determine whether other appliances share a circuit with your furnace. Consider unplugging any additional items that share a circuit with your furnace or avoid operating them while using your furnace as a temporary fix. A more permanent solution is to work with a trained HVAC specialist and electrician to create an individual circuit for your HVAC system.

An Electrical Panel Problem

If you’ve inspected your furnace, air vents, and registers, ensured proper airflow and excluded your furnace as the source of the issue, then the electrical panel could be to blame for your furnace throwing your circuit breaker. In this case, faulty connections and improperly functioning breakers could result in poor performance. If the issue is occuring in an older home or business space, you may need a panel replacement. This is particularly important for panels that are outdated, damaged or those that were poorly installed in the first place. If your electric panel is the source of the issue, you need the expertise of a trained electrician to resolve it.