Need to Troubleshoot a Circuit? Follow These General Tips
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Need to Troubleshoot a Circuit? Follow These General Tips


Despite Portland’s mild climate, suddenly being left without a source of heat is not a fun prospect. Yet, if your heating or cooling system’s electrical circuit malfunctions, that’s exactly what will happen.

If you’ve been repeatedly experiencing tripped circuit breakers or other electrical circuit problems, knowing how to troubleshoot a circuit can help you get your system running again or point your technician towards potential causes.

Has it happened before? – Any component that’s caused past electrical circuit problems should be the first thing you check. Is there a particular wire that keeps working loose? Have you been experiencing problems with the fan motor or the A/C compressor? Has the start capacitor malfunctioned before?

What’s changed recently? – If your system was working fine until you had repairs or upgrades, the recent changes are likely to be the cause of your circuit problems. If you’re comfortable opening your indoor unit, check for any obviously loose components or wires. Otherwise, call your technician back.

What’s still working? – Is your furnace or A/C not running at all or is the indoor unit’s fan motor at least humming? Is the fan motor working normally, but the outdoor unit is lifeless? Finding the stage at which the system stopped functioning can point you to the source of your problem. If you reset the breaker only to have it immediately trip again when the system turns on, call an electrician.

Test section by section – If you know how to use an ammeter, test the components that may be malfunctioning. Clamping the ammeter around the breaker’s hot wire can help you identify a weak breaker that should be replaced. Similarly, testing the hot wire can pinpoint problems there.

For safety reasons, if you’re not experienced with working on live wires, leave this troubleshooting technique up to a professional. Whether you need to troubleshoot a circuit, install a new appliance or upgrade your electrical panel, contact Roth Heating & Cooling in the Portland area for help.

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