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Harbor Freight Air Compressor Keeps Tripping Thermal Reset Button – Solutions & Causes

Published Categorized as Air Compressor Tripping Thermal Reset, Harbor Freight 1 Comment on Harbor Freight Air Compressor Keeps Tripping Thermal Reset Button – Solutions & Causes

A common problem with Harbor Freight air compressors is the Harbor Freight air compressor reset button tripping. This article will provide you with the most common reasons for this, along with existing reader questions & responses!

Visit our Harbor Freight brand page for more information on this brand of compressors!

Table of Contents

3 Most Reasons Harbor Freight Air Compressor Keeps Tripping Reset Button

There are three very common reasons why your reset button may be tripping on your air compressor and these are:

  1. Power supply
  2. The Air compressor runs too long
  3. Centrifugal switch

1. Power Supply

Check to make sure that your air compressor is plugged right into the wall socket, and that it is not being powered through an extension cord or power bar. They may not be large enough to allow the flow of power that the compressor motor needs to operate efficiently.

2. The Air Compressor Runs Too Long

If you are using your air compressor for extended periods, the typical DIY air compressor will overheat. The duty cycle of the compressor may be less than the time you are requiring it to run, and the motor will overheat.

If you believe this is happening to your air compressor, try only running it for ten minutes and then letting it sit for at least the same amount of time so that the motor can cool, before firing it up again.

3. Centrifugal Switches

The centrifugal switch can stick which will keep the start windings energized tripping the thermal switch. If the centrifugal switch were to get stuck in an open position then the windings won’t shift properly. The start windings can’t withstand the heat of the compressor’s full RPM which subsequently causes the compressor to overheat and the reset button to trip.

For more detailed information, please visit our Air Compressor Reset Button Always Trips – Air Compressor Keeps Tripping Overload guide here!

Reader Questions & Responses

Harbor Freight Air Compressor Keeps Tripping Reset Button – Harbor Freight Air Compressor Troubleshooting


I have the 90234 air compressor from harbor freight. i have used it quite often for over a year. i have even pushed it multiple occasions running it nonstop for hours without a break.

Yesterday while using it with my sandblaster the air compressor thermal overload switch popped and the compressor died.

Harbor Freight 90234 air compressor
Harbor Freight 90234 air compressor

I restarted it to only have it run for about thirty seconds before it died again.

Figuring it needed a rest i left it alone. today i went to start the compressor only to have it run for another thirty or so seconds and just cut out, it didn’t even fill the tank.

The oil and its level seemed fine.

Is it possible my motor is dying. i have it on a power strip all by itself connected to an outlet without anything else and i never had this problem before even when running the compressor for hours at a time.

I am going to check tomorrow if there is a restriction of some sort in the copper line. if i can get any advice i appreciate it. thanks


Scott, I don’t know what the Duty Cycle of your model of Harbor Freight compressor is. If you are not sure what I mean by Duty Cycle, see the page of that name linked from the sitemap page for complete info.

I think, reading between the lines, that you know that you have abused the compressor. If, in fact, it is not a continuous duty compressor, from your own admission, you have run it long and hot, and I suspect, this has damaged your motor, if not the pump.

Sounds like you have had your money out of this one, and since, I suspect, that replacing the motor may only solve on of the issues, it may be time to retire this one for parts, and get another.

To be sure, find an electric motor rebuild shop, and take the motor there for a load test.

Cheers and good luck.

If you have any questions regarding Harbor Freight air compressor reset button tripping, please leave a comment below, with a photo if applicable, so that someone can help you!

By Bill Wade

About Air Compressors has been helping folks with their Air Compressor Problems since 2002 online. We're a community of DIY and Compressed Air professionals who are keen to support everyone across the globe with their air compressor issues and troubleshooting. Whether you're trying to identify an old air compressor, or troubleshoot an error code on a sophisticated new industrial air compressor - the community at About-Air-Compressors.com is here to help you

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