Air conditioners freezing up is a fairly common problem and one that can be incredibly frustrating to deal with. When your AC freezes up, it will no longer be able to keep your home cool. In fact, it will lead to your system blowing hot air out of your vents instead of cold. If you ever find yourself facing this issue, it is vital that you understand what steps to take to prevent damage to the system and get it back up and running again as soon as possible.
Steps to Take When Your AC Freezes Up
You usually won’t be aware that your AC has frozen up until the temperature inside your house starts quickly rising or you notice that the system is putting out warm air from the vents. In these situations, you should first check the system both inside and outside for any signs of ice. Typically, the indoor evaporator and outdoor condenser coil outside will both freeze, but sometimes it will only freeze inside or outside the building.
If you do see any ice on the coils, the first thing to do is switch the power off by flipping the circuit breaker that controls the system. This will stop the system from icing up even more and prevent possible damage to the AC compressor. This is vital as running the system when frozen can potentially burn up the motor in the compressor due to overheating.
Once the power is off, you’ll have to wait for as long as it takes for the coils and refrigerant lines to completely thaw. You may want to lay some towels around the air handler to collect any water that could overflow from the drain pan. When the evaporator coil starts to thaw, the additional water can sometimes be too much for the condensate drain system to handle at one time.
Depending on the amount of ice build-up and how hot the temperature is, the system could thaw in a couple of hours, or it could take as much as a full day. Either way, there is nothing to do but wait. You can try using a hair dryer to speed up the process, but what you should never do is try to chip off the ice or otherwise remove it by hand. Doing so could damage the coils or refrigerant lines, causing them to leak and leading to potentially expensive repairs.
Once all the ice is gone, you’ll want to dry off the coils as well as you can with a towel or rag as this will help to prevent it from immediately freezing up again. You can now flip the circuit breaker to power the system, and then let it run on Fan Only for around 30 minutes. This will circulate warm air through the coils to ensure they are completely dry before you turn the air conditioning back on.
Reasons Your AC Might Be Freezing Up
Air conditioners most commonly freeze either due to a lack of sufficient airflow or because the system doesn’t have enough refrigerant due to a leak. The most common cause of this problem is a clogged air filter, and this is always the first thing you should check. If not, enough hot air is reaching the air handler’s evaporator coil, the temperature of the refrigerant will quickly drop, and the system will freeze due to the moisture on the coils. This can also happen due to a malfunctioning blower fan, leaky ductwork or clogged or obstructed return air/supply vents. The same can also happen if the fins or grille surrounding the AC compressor are clogged.
Air conditioners are closed systems, which means the refrigerant should always remain at a constant level. Nonetheless, small leaks can develop over time in the copper lines or the coils. When this happens, the system will not have enough refrigerant to work properly. If there isn’t enough refrigerant, it lowers the pressure which makes the refrigerant cold enough that the system starts to freeze. In this situation, the only solution is to hire an HVAC technician to fix the leak and then top up the system with more refrigerant.
If your AC keeps freezing up, this is a definite sign that your system needs to be professionally inspected and repaired. At Bernard Heating & Cooling, we have years of experience helping customers in Akron, Hudson, and the surrounding areas overcome frozen AC issues. Our certified technicians can work on all types and all models of cooling and heating equipment. In addition, we offer indoor air quality service. If your AC keeps freezing up, contact the experts at Bernard Heating & Cooling. We will get the issue taken care of so you can enjoy being cool and comfortable all summer.