Central AC won't come on. We can turn it on by flipping the circuit breaker. It will run for a short time and kick off.
We have an Energy Star AC and a programmable thermostat, but every three years we have to have a service call for our unit.
It sounds as though you have a pinhole leak.
Freon leaks can be found with a soapy water solution, but the leak may not be in an accessible location. A good AC tech can use a "sniffer" to check for leaks, but since this is common and repair can be difficult and expensive, most techs just add a little freon and call it good.
For more information:
Check our Find a Pro directory to find a green HVAC contractor in your area.
Also, read Steve Saunders's Q&A "My AC service contractor wants to sell me a new unit with environmentally friendly Freon. What does that mean? Should I buy it?"