Air compressor tripping reset is a common problem. Air compressors are used in many different industries, so it’s essential to know how to troubleshoot this issue should it arise.

If an air compressor keeps tripping to reset, a few things could be wrong, including coil fan damage, lack of power, or a dirty filter. The cost to fix many of these issues is, on average, $250. For an entirely new air compressor, expect to pay $2000.

If you’re experiencing an air compressor that keeps tripping the reset button on your power panel, keep reading to find out why, some tips and tricks for fixing and preventing it from happening, and the costs associated with each solution!

Seven reasons why an air compressor keeps tripping and how to fix it

Air compressor tripping reset can be dangerous for many reasons and should never go unaddressed.

Here are the top seven reasons an air compressor keeps tripping reset:

  • Coil fan is damaged
  • Air filter is dirty/old
  • Lack of power
  • Condenser coils are dirty
  • Machine age
  • Lack of refrigerant
  • Issue with the circuit breaker

Reason 1: Coil fan is damaged

A damaged coil fan is one of the most common reasons causing your air compressor to trip to reset.

The purpose of coils is to release heat as the air compressor works its magic. To keep the machine’s temperature regulated, these coils are cooled by a fan. However, if this fan breaks, it’s impossible to keep the compressor from overheating

An indicator of this issue is the compressor cycling on and off repeatedly. It’s also important to consider that a dirty and blocked air filter could prevent the coils from releasing heat properly.

The solution

If the air filter is clean, replacing the coil fan is the only way to fix this issue.

To replace the air compressor coil fan, you can expect to pay about $825. The labor for most HVAC professionals will be around $100 per hour. See below for a breakdown of the costs.

Sometimes the repair costs of a broken coil fan are too high relative to that of the air compressor that most people opt to purchase a new machine altogether.

Reason 2: Air filter is dirty/old

Like I mentioned above, a dirty air filter can lead to other parts of the air compressor not functioning correctly.

Dirty air filters require the air compressor to work overtime in order to filter air. More power is required for the machine to do its job, causing the compressor to overheat and trip reset. Not to mention- as much as a 3% reduction in compressor output results even if the pressure drop across your filter element is only 30mbar.

This could cost you hundreds of dollars in electricity bills each year!

 

The solution

This one’s a cheap and easy solution- replace the filter.

High particulate filters, coalescing air filters, and compressor intake filters (depending on the type of air compressor you have and what it’s used for) are all available for purchase in the $30 range. 

If you’re sure your air filter is clean but still notice that the machine trips reset when in use, then there’s a chance that something else could be going on with your unit.

Reason 3: Lack of power

That something else could be a lack of power. If you have a few tools in your garage, chances are they’re all plugged into the same power strip.

An air compressor needs direct (extension-free) power. The longer the cord, the farther electricity has to travel to the air compressor, and therefore, the less electricity gets there. 

Not enough power can cause the motor to overheat and trip the reset button.

The solution

If you don’t have an outlet nearby, call in a pro.

Likely you will need to upgrade your power source for about $1000 depending on the amps. If the air compressor is only tripping reset when you run multiple devices, then you should try unplugging the other tools.

Having a proper power source can also have a significant impact on the lifespan of your air compressor.

Reason 4: Condenser coils are dirty

Dirty condenser coils are another common reason causing the air compressor to trip reset.

If the condenser coils are dirty, they cannot release heat properly, which increases the temperature inside your compressor. This may cause the pressure switch to trip reset or even lead to more damage down the line.

 

The solution

A simple cleaning can make dirty air condenser coils function as good as new!

Cleaning your air compressor coils should cost about $100 in cleaning supplies to do it on your own and around an hour’s worth of labor ($100 or so) for a professional to come out.

Check out this quick video detailing how to clean an AC condenser coil at home.

If the coils are not dirty, it’s possible that you have a faulty pressure switch.

Reason 5: Machine age

As with anything, your air compressor will only last so long. Simple old age can cause an air compressor to keep tripping reset.

The lifespan of an average industrial air compressor is 12.5 years. After that, parts start to deteriorate, and there’s only so much you can do to maintain the machine’s integrity.

If your machine dies before the warranty is up, it may be worth looking into getting a free replacement!

The solution

The only real solution is getting a completely new air compressor.

Like I mentioned above, a warranty may cover part of or the entire cost of a new air compressor depending on your situation. A new machine costs about $2000. The type you get will ultimately determine the price.

If you’re on a budget, look into getting a used air compressor for a fraction of the cost of a new one.

Reason 6: Lack of refrigerant

A lack of refrigerant is yet another source of overheating an air compressor, causing it to trip reset.

Compressors need a cool environment to work properly. Refrigerant is a chemical fluid that is used in the refrigeration cycle of air compression systems and passes through a continuous phase change. If it’s running low, the dispersed air won’t be very cold.

This will cause the compressor to overwork and trip the circuit.

The solution

If you suspect low refrigerant may be the issue, it’s fairly easy to fill back up on your own.

The refrigerant can be refilled for around $100 per bottle.

Reason 7: Issue with the circuit breaker

The air compressor may be perfectly functioning, and your circuit breaker is the issue.

If you have a 20 amp breaker, your compressor is likely using up to 25 amps to operate the compressor, which may cause a tripping reset. 

If you are relatively inexperienced in this arena, I recommend calling a professional electrician.

The solution

An electrician will take a look at your circuit breaker to determine the specific issue.

A quick fix may require tightening the breaker’s connecting wires. If that’s the case, you can expect to be charged $100 for only the labor. If you need to replace the entire circuit breaker panel, that will set you back $1000.

Rest assured, your air compressor will require no maintenance in this situation.

Tips to prevent an air compressor from tripping

There are several preventative measures you can take to prolong the lifespan of your air compressor, reduce tripping reset, and save money in the long run. However, the first thing you should do is purchase a high-quality air compressor in the beginning.

Quality products are more likely to have been manufactured with quality materials that will withstand the test of time. Air compressors made from parts such as cast iron and steel tend to last longer than those built out of plastic components, for instance. A high-grade air compressor starts at around $1500.

To ensure your unit lasts as long as possible before needing repairs or replacement, invest in an extended warranty policy. Make sure it covers both labor and any required spare parts to completely cover all costs associated with maintenance over time. This way, if anything goes wrong, someone will come to fix it free of charge!

Lastly, maintain the air compressor by regularly checking some of the problem areas mentioned above, such as your filters and refrigerant levels, and replacing them before they get too dirty or low.

If you encounter a complex problem, be sure to call a professional to handle it. Air compressors are relatively safe for those with basic knowledge of how they work, but if you aren’t knowledgeable or experienced enough in this area, please hire an HVAC technician to take care of all repairs.

The Bottom Line

If your air compressor keeps tripping to reset, it could be a number of electrical issues or minor problems that a routine cleaning will solve.

You can save money by considering the cost to fix these few issues before you buy a new unit. For instance, if your coil fan is damaged or old, replacing it will only set you back $825. A power issue might require an electrician for around $250 and so on. 

The costs are not too high when compared to what they would have been had you purchased a completely new unit. Air compressors are expensive machines that should last years if used properly, but unfortunately there’s no guarantee.

So, take care of them well and use this guide to troubleshoot before buying another one just yet!