How To Fix Air Compressor That Keeps Tripping Reset Button

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A very common problem with air compressors is the reset button tripping after a couple of minutes, or sometimes even ten or fifteen minutes of running time. This article will provide information on why this is consistently occurring and how to fix it.

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Air Compressor Reset Button

An air compressor’s reset button, otherwise known as the thermal overload button or safety switch, is located on the end of the air compressor or on its side. In some cases, it may be located inside the wiring of the motor.

The reset button is there to provide the user with safety. Its main purpose is to automatically turn off the air compressor’s power when it overheats. If a compressor were to overheat without the presence of a reset button, the motor will become damaged and lead to serious problems down the line. If the button is tripping then the motor is already getting hot.

If your air compressor reset button keeps tripping, it’s probably because your air compressor is too hot. Isn’t it so frustrating when you have a fully loaded air tank and you begin operating the air tool, and as the pressure starts to build, the air compressor suddenly trips the circuit breaker and the reset switch is good for absolutely nothing? This page will help you fix these issues. For information on an air compressor tripping the breaker on the restart, visit our article here!

Electric motor thermal reset button
Electric motor thermal reset button

Air Compressor Reset Button Problems & Fixes

There are numerous certain reasons as to why the reset button keeps tripping on your air compressor. And these reasons are:

  • Excessive use
  • Mechanical issues
  • Air leakages
  • Oil leakages
  • Power issues

Now let’s take a look at these problems and how to fix them!

Excessive Use

A very common problem for reset button tripping is due to excessive air compressor usage, or otherwise known as the compressor running too long. A reasonable running time for an air compressor is not greater than 10 or 15 minutes unless the compressor has a 100% duty cycle and states that it can run for longer.

Exceeding the duty cycle of the air compressor will lead to the overheating of the motor, and so, you should try to run the compressor for a smaller amount of time, say around 10 minutes, to give the air compressor time to cool down before starting its cycle again.

Duty cycle is very important and it works on the basis that if your compressor has a 50% duty cycle, then for every 10 minutes of work, you should then have 10 minutes of rest. You can find the duty cycle of your compressor in your user manual, and if you do not have this, contact the manufacturer directly to find out.

Mechanical Issues

You should make sure that you have no mechanical issues like a broken pressure valve or damaged gasket. Any damaged parts may cause the compressor to take more time to fill the tank and so this may trip the reset switch before the air compressor is full.

Inspect the pressure valve, gasket, and other parts and replace them if necessary. This will go a long way in cost-savings, downtime further risks, and damages, and also stop your reset button from tripping so often.

Air Leakages

It’s common for older air compressors to develop a tank check valve leak. If this happens, air will consistently bleed out of the compressors tank, even during the compressors work time. This will make the air compressor run for a far longer period of time to fill the tank – that’s if it ever reaches the cut out pressure.

Therefore, the motor will need to work harder and eventually overheat, causing the reset button to trip. This is also possible to occur on compressors that aren’t so old, and so it is important to conduct regular inspections on the valves to ensure no air is leaking from the system.

Oil Leakages

It’s possible that the valves on your air compressor are allowing oil to leak out of them. If this is the case, your air compressor will take a lot more time to fill the air tank and so the motor will overheat and trip the reset button. You should inspect all valves and connections for oil leakages and act swiftly if a leakage is found.

Power Issues

Finally, power issues are popular causes of the reset button tripping. You must try to avoid the use of a power extension or power bar and instead plug the air compressor directly into a wall socket. This is because air compressors require a high power supply, and the power extension or power bar may not be able to supply it effectively.

Too small of a power supply will lead to the motor overheating and the reset switch tripping!

Sticking Centrifugal Switch

The majority of air compressors have what a part called the centrifugal switch. The centrifugal switch is activated by a force caused by a rotating shaft (usually a gas engine or electric motor).

If you think about a car, the centrifugal switch is like first gear, It energizes the start-up windings. Once the compressor motor reaches about ¾ of its RPM, it switches gears from the start motor windings to the run windings.

Over time, the centrifugal switch can begin to shift out of adjustment, which causes it to get stuck in one position. If the centrifugal switch gets stuck in the open position, the windings will not shift properly. And if this happens, the start windings are unable to withstand the heat of the compressor’s full RPM, which will cause the compressor to overheat, tripping the reset button.

Therefore, it is imperative to conduct a check on the centrifugal switch and make sure it’s operating sufficiently. If you’re comfortable and have relative knowledge of centrifugal switches, you can adjust or replace it yourself. If not, seek professional help.

To adjust it, make sure the points on the contact plate of the switch are in open position. If they’re not, move the points so they are no longer in contact by bending the cicular spring flat. If these points are welded shut, replace the switch.

If there is light pitting on the surface of the points, you must sand them gently with sandpaper – 400 grit should do. Larger deformities will create an unusable condition, therefore the contact plate must be replaced.

Below is a useful YouTube video about an air compressor reset button!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How do I stop my air compressor from tripping the breaker?

There are numerous reasons why your air compressor is tripping the breaker. To prevent it from happening you must ensure that air filters and the cylinders are not clogged, you’ve plugged the compressor into a wall socket and not an extension cord, and that the circuit breaker, motor, pressure switch, capacitor, and unloader valve, are all working effectively and not fault. Replace any faulty parts immediately.

Where is the rest button on an air compressor?

An air compressor’s reset button, or otherwise known as the safety switch or thermal overload button, is typically found on the end of the air compressor or on its side. In some cases though, it can be found inside the wiring of the motor.

Why does my compressor trip?

There are multiple reasons why your air compressor is tripping, typically it will be down to something causing the motor to overheat, which trips the reset button. Anything like a leak, power or mechanical issues can cause the compressor to work for a longer period of time that’s it’s duty cycle states, this therefore leads to the motor working harder and overheating.

If you have any questions regarding the reset button tripping and how to fix it, please leave a comment below, with a photo if applicable, so that someone can help you!

By Ashley Pearce

As a passionate manufacturing and mechanical engineer, I've had my fair share of run ins with air compressors and compressed air systems. With over a decade of experience in the industry, I have both a fresh perspective and time-served hands and mind to help you with your compressor problems (along with our able community!)

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September 18, 2022 8:49 pm

I fixed mine from tripping the switch. I took a sledgehammer to the thing. What a waste of 3 grand and now I’m back using my little child’s air compressor. Sucks living off grid miles from help