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Compressor blows breaker switch - Air Tools & Compressors

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  • jaap schildmeijer May 11, 2010

    what kind of compressor, piston or screw or other.
    is it de-pressurised at moment of starting
    is it running smooth by hand
    cables and connections ok

  • Al Kupchella
    Al Kupchella May 11, 2010

    Can you provide a little more information? Does it only trip on startup? Every time? How long is the wiring from the breaker to the compressor? What gage is it? What compressor model?

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What size compressor? what size circuit breaker? what voltage? starting with air in the tank or without? it all makes a difference!

Posted on Feb 09, 2010

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I have a model #919.167200 5hp, 20gal. air compressor. It has been working great for years, but when I went to turn it on today it blew the breaker. I pulled cover and cleaned contacts on pressure switch,...


Hi dtsorrell...

If your somewhat of a mechanic/electrician then you can by-pass the pressure switch by hooking the color coded motor wires together with the incoming color coded wires from your power cord in the proper order.
Plug it in and then check to see if it blows the breaker again, if it does then it is your motor that is faulty.
Please take time to rate me.

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Compressor runs and compress air,but when air setting is depleted compressor will not start to compress more air.If you waite it will start some times do think this might the compressor switch


If it doesn't try to start, then it could be the pressure switch. Another suspect could be the thermal overload on the motor. The motor (or just the overload) might be overheating and shutting the unit off, then allowing it to restart when it cools.

Is there any humming, or does it blow the breaker? When ot shuts off, do you hear a brief hiss of air?

If there is humming or breaker blowing on restart, or no hiss of air at shutoff, the pressure switch unloader valve is probably bad. If the air blows off, and there is no humming, and the compressor doesn't reliably start, it is probably the pressure switch. If pressure drops too low, give the pressure switch a tap with a screwdriver. If it starts then, the pressure switch is your problem.

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This compressor is small however like other brands in this size range draw 13 - 15 amps. Thats quite a bit of power. The compressor has a thermal breaker that will begin to trip if compressor is hot. I am assuming that the breaker that is tripping is the one on the compessor. I have seen many hitachi breakers fail. Easy to replace with generic 20 amp, cost about $10. Before you replace anything, check amp draw with meter, if within specs try to determine what is causing heat.
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cycling too many times per hour (check manual for recommended)
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This is usually a problem with the check valve. The unloader valve on your pressure switch is designed to bleed the pressure off the head of the compressor. With a leaking check valve the pressure isn't relieved from the head and the pump can't turn causing the motor to overload and blow the breakers.

To troubleshoot your problem try the following:

Trace the 1/4" line that connects to the unloader back to the tank. You'll find a fitting there. Remove the lines and then the fitting. Sometimes cleaning that valve will alleviate the problem. If not you need to replace the check valve.

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