Compressor shuts off before reaching pressure

by jon dee

compressor shuts off without reaching full operating pressure (circuit breaker trips)



Make sure the power supply to your Harbor Freight air compressor is "clean". By that, I mean no extension cord being used, and no other appliances pulling power from the same circuit the air compressor is on.

If the problem persists when you have clean power, then it might be a failing pressure switch allowing a short and popping the breaker, it could be the motor is laboring and pulling too many amps, it could be the start/run capacitor isn't working right... many things.

What pressure does it reach before the breaker pops, and is the breaker popping at the same pressure on the compressor every time?

Post a response here please, if you wish, so I can follow the thread.



Comments for Compressor shuts off before reaching pressure

Click here to add your own comments

Mar 06, 2017
Harbor Junk
by: Cj

Yeah, I fell for the gimmick of four outta 5 stars rating. The thing starts running then quickly stops pumping, but the motor is humming away, then it trips the breaker. Take my advice, spend the extra money for something better than Harbor freight. For sale used aircompressor!!

Jan 23, 2017
Remove rubber o ring
by: Forrest

Mine would trip almost every start. I took the brass valve off top with 14mm and took the red rubber o ring out and has never faulted again. 3 months later

Dec 07, 2016
compressor always needs resetting
by: harry

hi what up. i have my compressor for about 2 yrs.the same one you have.from day one i have to hit the reset 10-16 times before it will stay running.frist i used an exstion cord so i did away with it dircit into outlet.still dose it and i have tryed differant outlets with same resutls.and i do not use that much

it is so loud it hurts your it is full of air 150 psi.shuts off and go to check the air in my tire and i put in 5lbs.and the compressor kick back on and it keeps doing that so anything i am working on on and off on and off.

Mar 29, 2016
Harbor Freight 21 Gal 2.5 HP # 61454
by: JR

Same problem, if the pressure is somewhere between 90-40 PSI (Even a little less) the motor bogs down and trips the reset button, I can tell the motor is laboring trying to turn over even when it hasn't been in use or hot, the thermal (Reset button) pops, I have to completely drain the tank, then, the motor will run up to 125 PSI to fill the tank.

It's not my garage or outlet power, been running a 5.5 HP 26 Gal on that same outlet for years, there's something wrong with this compressor, especially reading all these other same sounding problems. Lucky for me I just bought it and hasn't been 30 days yet. It's going back to HF to get my money back, after reading these other complaints and having the same, not going to chance getting stuck with one.

Aug 07, 2014
Regarding Brand new and won't run.
by: Bill

Odd that the regulator gauge reaches 85 PSI but the tank gauge doesn't read anything.

I would expect the reverse if the regulator was turned down to zero.

It were me, this one would be going back in the box and on the way to the store for a new one.

Anyone else?


Aug 07, 2014
Brand new and won't run.
by: Kelly Dillon

Just put together this brand new compressor yesterday. Followed break in procedure no problem. Then drained the oil and refilled (to proper level) with compressor oil supplied by Harbor Freight.

Restarted compressor and it ran until regulator gauge reached 85psi.

The tank gauge never moved from 0 psi.

At this point it sputtered and quit. I tried to restart but it wouldn't. I figured it overheated so I waited 30 minutes and tried to start. It wouldn't start with the switch. When I hit the reset it sputtered for about 2 seconds and kicked out.

I let it set overnight and it did the same thing this morning.

The replacement oil from Harbor freight seemed to be a little thicker than what came in the box with the compressor. Is this the issue or is it something else???? Please help

May 16, 2013
reset switch
by: Anonymous

OMG fellas. don't make a huge project out of this. by-pass the reset switch. Tha'ts all that's wrong. Just cut the wires,twist them together and spin a yellow wire nut on there.
That's one line of thought. On the other hand, if the reset is tripping due to overheating of the motor, then by following your advice you will, for sure, overheat the motor. Not good if you want your motor to last.


Aug 21, 2012
Reset trips right away
by: Luis

My 21-Gal compressor trips the reset button right away and no matter how many times I reset it, it does the same thing over and over. The motor doesn't even get a chance to build any pressure up. First out of the box, it worked fine and I used it one time for about two hours with no problems. Now it doesn't even want to get going. Any ideas? Thanks.
A couple of things to consider. First off, are you plugging it directly into a wall socket or using an extension cord. If using a cord, either get a heavier duty one or don't use it. The other is, you mention that it goes off before it builds pressure, yet is there pressure in the tank? Before you try to start it again, open the tank valve and make sure the tank is empty. Close the drain and start it. Did that make any difference?


Jul 22, 2011
pressure switch removal and replace
by: Anonymous

pressure switch is central pneumatic for 2.5hp 21 gallon compressor.


I wonder if yours is the condor switch?

If so, you should be able to get details here:

Jul 19, 2011
pressure switch removal
by: Anonymous

how do i remove switch and replace it with a new one.there are 4 screws on the bottom and a red button on the top. how do i remove the red button on top?
thanks, jd


What make of switch?

May 18, 2011
by: jon dee

pressing the reset button after the circuit breaker trips allows the compressor to reach full runs about one minute before it cuts off each time


Hoping that you have clean power, as noted, at what pressure does the breaker trip? Same pressure each time? If it's happening a differing pressure points, then it may not the pressure switch.


Click here to add your own comments

Add your own question or comment. It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Harbor Freight Compressor Issues.