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When a circuit breaker trips, it will shut down the air compressor system, and work comes to a halt. When a Ridgid air compressor trips breaker, it’s a worrying issue, as you’ll no longer be able to use your air tools.

Therefore, it is important to understand the reasons why your Ridgid air compressor keeps tripping its breaker, and so, this article will provide you with all the relevant information, along with existing reader questions and responses.

Table of Contents

Reasons Your Ridgid Air Compressor Trips Breaker

Here are some of the most common reasons your Ridgid air compressor is tripping breaker:

  • Broken extension cord
  • Clogged air filter
  • Clogged air cylinders
  • Failed capacitor
  • Failed unloader valve
  • Faulty circuit breaker
  • Faulty motor
  • Faulty pressure switch

Broken Extension Cord

A broken extension cord is capable of causing some serious risks, potentially even leading to a fire. A fault in an extension cord will trigger the circuit breaker to trip and cut off the electric supply to the compressor and shut down its system.

This will contribute to the motor overheating and the breaker tripping when the compressor starts.

Clogged Air Filter

Air compressor circuit breakers are liable to trip due to dirty or clogged air filters. Air filters prevent dirt from entering the air pump, as dirt inside the pump can result in expensive repairs. It is, therefore, very important that you change your air compressor filter frequently to avoid these repairs.

For more information visit our Compressed Air Filtration Guide!

Clogged Cylinders

It’s possible that the cylinders inside your air compressor (if it has any), can become clogged and hinder the performance of the compressor. A faulty or clogged cylinder or multiple can certainly cause the circuit breaker to trip to prevent the air pump from undergoing damage.

Failed Capacitor

If your compressor is large enough and has a start capacitor, it’s possible that your circuit breaker trips due to the capacitor failing.

Failed Unloader Valve

When the unloader valve fails, compressed air will become trapped over the cylinder piston and this adds to the load the compressor motor experiences on startup. This additional load may then force the motor into pulling too many amps, and therefore, tripping the circuit breaker.

Faulty Circuit Breaker

Although they tend to be of very high quality when installed in air compressors, it is possible that after years of use they may become faulty.

Faulty Motor

Air compressors feature high-capacity induction motors that generally have a low amperage draw. If you have a faulty motor it can trip the circuit breaker in your air compressor system. The motor windings or any other electrical connections inside the motor may be shorting and this sudden flow of electricity pulls too many amps than required.

Faulty Pressure Switch

When the air pressure in the tank drops, a small diaphragm inside the pressure switch moves and forces points inside the switch to touch making a circuit. This then signals a flow of power to the compressor motor to enable it to start and pump more air into the tank. A faulty pressure switch sending the wrong signal of flow can cause the breaker to trip on an air compressor.

For more detailed information on why an air compressor circuit breaker trips, visit our guide!

Reader Questions & Responses

Question

Ridgid wheel barrel compressor popping breakers on job site? I plugged it in on my job site and the breaker popped after a few seconds I then plugged it into a generator it ran till it built up about 50 psi and the generator blew a breaker any ideas what is going on? rigid wheel barrel style compressor 110 volts.

New Ridgid wheel barrow air compressor
Ridgid Wheelbarrow Air Compressor

Response

The breaker pops as the compressor is pulling too many amps for the circuit, typically.

Reasons vary. If on a job site, how long is the extension cord? Better you don’t use one, but if you must, it has to be a heavy gauge to help prevent power loss to the compressor motor.

Other reasons could be a fully plugged intake filter, a start/run capacitor that’s failing, it’s too cold when the compressor tries to start, many reasons, and most are covered on the pages of this site.

Please add a comment providing more information if you wish, along with the model of Ridgid compressor you have.


If you have any questions regarding your Ridgid air compressor tripping breaker, please leave a comment below, with a photo if applicable, so that someone can help you!