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We ran our forced air heat pump today. 15 min. in we noticed it just stopped running. Looking in the breaker panel I could see that the breaker for the heating unit had tripped. When I tried to reset it, with a very loud bang it tripped the main breaker to the whole panel. I reset the main breaker, and tried to reset the breaker to the heating unit and it tripped the main breaker again. I shut the heat pump off and tried a third time, only to trip the main breaker for the whole house again. What gives? Panel problem or heat pump problem?

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You should contact an Electrician or HVAC technician. There seems to be a short-circuit somewhere in the circuit supplying the heating unit. DO NOT reset the breaker again until the problem is fixed.

The reason I suspect a short-circuit, is because the breakers are reacting so quickly. If this was an overcurrent situation, the main breaker would likely not trip (unless the panel is severely overloaded).

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