Breaker tripping problem


Old 01-22-06, 11:27 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2006
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Question Breaker tripping problem

Bought a brand new air compressor. It has a 15 amp motor.
Plugged it in..... the 20 amp breaker trips.

Tried a different line (circuit). It doesn't trip. It works fine.

Tried a differnet line. It trips.... hmmmm?

Tried several different lines. What is the common thing about the lines that the compressor trips when turned on?

A GFCI is installed. (as in, the basement and garage circuits....of course, this is where I'd like to be able to use my compressor.!)

The house was build new about 10 years ago..... professional contractor electrical firm.

Tested continuity of the ground and the common on the compressor. There is no connection (signal) between the common to ground in either the on or off position of the on off switch of the compressor so I know they are not shorted out or miss wired.

Everything else electrical has seemed to work in the house over the last 10 years. But that doesn't mean something may not be wrong in the electrical wiring!!! (I had a house that was professionally wired burn down due to faulty I tend to be a bit cautious about these things!!!!!!)

Any thoughts? Ideas? Things that need to be checked out?

Last edited by Tree26; 01-22-06 at 11:35 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 01-22-06, 11:55 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
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Are there other things on the circuits where it trips? If it works fine on some circuits and trips the breaker on other circuits, it seems like some of your circuits are already loaded with other devices and you don't have enough power left for your relatively high-amperage air compressor.
Old 01-23-06, 12:28 AM
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Thank you for your reply.

No.... there is nothing else on those circuits ..... maybe a light or a wall clock ..... but nothing significant.

Last edited by Tree26; 01-23-06 at 12:38 AM. Reason: more detail added
Old 01-23-06, 01:20 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
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I'm assuming your tripping the breaker and not the GFI.

If the motor on the compressor uses an induction motor they can pull over 3 times the current/amps to get started.

If its a long distance from the main panel to your plug that can increase the starting time so the motor draws the higher starting amps longer, tripping the breaker.

You can also have a weak breaker.
Old 01-23-06, 03:01 PM
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Yes, it's the breaker that's tripping not the GFCI.

I'm not sure if it is an induction type of motor or not. It seems to me that if it were they would recomend a larger breaker than 15 amp. (which is what the owners manual clearly recomends).

Also, the circuits that I have been trying are not long runs from the breaker box..... some that are tripping the breaker are only a matter of 5 or 6 feet away (I mapped the lines in the basement before the sheet rock went on).

Last edited by Tree26; 01-23-06 at 03:02 PM. Reason: adding more
Old 01-23-06, 06:48 PM
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After reading through the responses again.... I wonder if I perhaps have not made myself clear.

When I try to use my compressor.....Why does the circuit breaker trip only on the circuits that have a GFCI? Why does having a GFCI make a difference if the line is long? Why difference does having a GFCI make if the motor is Induction? It's the GFCI aspect of this problem that has me baffled.

Please, any suggestions most welcome
Old 01-23-06, 07:24 PM
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If the GFCI itself is not tripping it is not the culprit.
Old 01-23-06, 10:15 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
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With you type of problem I first try to eliminate loose connections and excessive resistance.

When it comes to electronics anything is possible, A GFI is a electronic item.
But general electricity is a bit simpler.

Its unlikely that the GFI is your problem. but I can come up with theory's why a GFI can be your problem.

Lets first find out if the GFI's are the problem.

I would turn off the power and check the connections to the GFI's if the wires are backstabbed into the back of the GFI move them to the screw terminals.
NOTE: Don't ! mix up the wires, there is markings on the GFI indicating "LINE" and "LOAD" terminals.

A second test would be, temporarily replace the GFI with a standard receptacle.

While your looking try to confirm they used 12 gauge copper wire.
Old 01-27-06, 02:56 PM
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Thank you

I thought a follow up was in order and a thank you to all who assisted.

It has been a few days since I started on looking for the solution to this problem.... Just now had a chance to try the things suggested.

What I did.

1. Shut the power off at the main breaker on the outside of the house. (made sure power was indeed off)
2. Took the cover off the distribution/breaker panel.
3. Tightened the screw wire connector on the breaker and the buss bar common on one of the circuits that would immediatly trip when the compressor was turned on. (More on this later)
4. Turned power back on... tested by applying the load.... breaker tripped.
5. Turned power back off at main breaker.
6. Installed new breaker. Power back on. Test by applying load... new breaker tripped.
7. Turned power back off at main breaker.
8. Examined the Common connection buss more closely.... Hmmmm, hard to see deep in there but there appeared to be some kind of corosion ... almost a rusty deposit growing around the wire.... disasembled. cleaned wire, bussbar and screw.....
9. Reinstalled common.
10. Turned power back on. Tested....
Yep you guessed it right..... works like a charm!!!!! Hurray!!!
11. Put panel face back on.

Now... talk about coincidence.... the circuits that I tried that tripped the breaker were the only ones in the box that had this corrosion stuff growing.

So.... circumstantial bad luck I guess that led me down the wrong idea of what the problem was.

Thanks again everyone for helping!

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