A/C Unit Keeps Tripping Circuit Breaker - How to test breaker before calling repair man?

My air conditioning unit won't start and keeps tripping the circuit breaker. When I try to reset it with the A/C on, the fan will move just slightly and then the breaker trips. I can see nothing physically wrong with it or the metal bars it connects to. With the A/C off, it seems to switch on and off normally. I suspect and fear that there may be a problem with the compressor or something else in the unit. But if the breaker is bad, I can replace it myself and save a service call. Problem is that I'm not sure how to test it. Any help or advise would be appreciated.
TIA
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Need a little more info. First is this a window unit or central air? What size breaker is it on? If it is a window unit, is it on a dedicated circuit?
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You could temporarily connect the wire(s) for you air conditioner to another breaker of the same amperage, in the panel and see if it trips, although it doesn't sound like a circuit breaker problem to me

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Or remove the circuit breaker and just hard wire the ac.
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Wow, I'm sure this poster was kidding. You are kidding, right?
--

Christopher A. Young
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Odds are you need a pro to look at the unit. The breaker could go bad, especially since your FORCING a dead short across it repeatedly.
Looking at the breaker and trying to figure out what is wrong on the other end is like looking at your tires when the car will not run.1
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It's extremely unlikely that the breaker is bad. But how old is it? The only way to know for sure is to buy another one and substitute.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

It most certainly isn't the only way, nor is it anywhere close to the best way. And it's bad advice; that is money better spent on the service call that it needs.
hvacrmedic
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wrote:

SHHHHH...dont tell em that....LOL
Think plasma.....think Darwin.

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From the sounds of it, there is something seriously wrong with the AC. I'd suggest call a HVAC repair company out. It isn't sounding like a bad breaker.
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The day was hot, and demand for Stormin Mormin was running high. The days call was normal: No cooling. Stormin Mormin arrived on site, and immediately inspected the thermosat. Then he scratched his head, and looked at the thermostat. Then he scratched his head and looked at the thermostat, again.
Finally, it came to him. The problem must be the 'capacitor thing'. And so, he pulled a used capacitor from his box of things, and crammed it in as best he could.
Sure, it was the wrong size; both physically and electrically, but hey; it's just a capacitor after all.
Stormin Mormin then hurried off to the breaker panel, where he sawed up a circuit breaker and crammed it into place. No, the circuit breaker had nothing to do with the service call, but the customer asked for it to be changed, and being the 'swell' guy he is, he agreed to do the work. After all, its not like he was licensed or insured to do any of the work he was there to do in the first place, so what difference did a bit more quackery make? Besides, it's not as if Stormin Mormin had to actually live in the house he was converting into a fire hazard.
And so, he hurried off to home depot to find the perfect circuit breaker. He picked the one he thought was the prettiest, and hurried back to the job.
And then he found out that it too, was the wrong size, both physically and electrically. But, nothing a chop here and a trim there cant take care of! After all - what's a quarter inch of plastic gonna do to help or hurt anything?
Then Stormin Mormin turned everything on, over charged the customer, and then ran back to usenet to brag to everyone about his exciting day!
(The preceeding story is quite true. Don't believe it? Follow the below link to the message where Stormin Mormin lays it all out himself.)
http://groups.google.com/group/alt.hvac/browse_frm/thread/33562220bd0ebbaa/60403229ce15893c?q=ge+incapacitors&rnum=1&hl=en#60403229ce15893c
"From the sounds of it, there is something seriously wrong with the AC. I'd suggest call a HVAC repair company out. It isn't sounding like a bad breaker. "
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I'd replace the breaker as a first shot. I had one go bad and replacing it was the cure. You can always call service afterwards if it still trips.
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