We have a 1995 Rheem 3-ton unit cooling the upstairs of our recently purchased home. It has been running frequently, averaging about five hours a day in June. Unfortunately, it has now tripped the breaker two days in a row. An HVAC guy came yesterday and said it was drawing only 22A. He also said the R22 level was fine, and he just reset the breaker. The breaker is 40A. I have put the name plate in the image below. Any ideas or things worth checking? Do I need a new unit?

nameplate on our 1995 Rheem


Well, from the name plate the max breaker size is 35 so that is the size breaker it should be on.

It is possible the breaker is going bad. Especially if it only trips occasionally and not immediately every time the compressor starts.

It is also possible the unit is going bad and only occasionally draws more than its rating. When the technician was there it just happened to be acting normally.

The cheapest fix is to try a new 35 amp breaker. If it continues to trip then you need to call the HVAC contractor back out for a more thorough examination.

Good luck!

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  • Thanks. Is there any way to know if the breaker is going bad? Here is a picture: ibb.co/n8tMhv. Yes, it does not trip immediately but has been tripping faster. Today it took only an hour. The breaker always ends up in the middle position between on and off (it is tripped in the image above). – Ken Feyl Jul 2 '17 at 18:06
  • There is no way a homeowner can test a breaker or check the internal workingsr. If you had an Amprobe you could measure the current draw. Which apparently the technician did and said it is only drawing 22 amps. But if it keeps tripping faster I would suspect it is going bad. Each time they trip it shaves a little off their life span. They don't last forever. 😞 – ArchonOSX Jul 2 '17 at 18:12
  • Thanks. Is it safe to replace the 40A with a 35A breaker? – Ken Feyl Jul 2 '17 at 18:17
  • Yes it is actually safer and that is what the nameplate on the Air Condioner is calling for as the maximum size. – ArchonOSX Jul 2 '17 at 18:20
  • Many thanks! I have just ordered a new 35A breaker and will report back after I have installed it. Is regular tripping symptomatic of a broken breaker? – Ken Feyl Jul 2 '17 at 19:33

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