What Do You Do When Your Air Conditioner Freezes Up?
If your air conditioner freezes, you may discover a buildup of frost on the copper that comes out of the unit. Sometimes the frost build up can be so bad that a full block of ice forms, according to Superior HVAC Austin, who conducts AC repairing in Austin. Fortunately, the solutions to this issue are often very simple. Just because your air handler is frozen does not mean there is a severe problem with it.
Why Is My Air Conditioner Freezing Up?
1. Low Refrigerant
Most often, the refrigerant chlorodifluoromethane, also known as R22 can be the cause of AC freeze-ups.
R22 refrigerant has different physical properties at various levels of pressure. In a properly functioning system, the way the refrigerant is passed through the lines is at a temperature where condensation may form outside the line.
If something happens and there is a sudden change in the pressure in your AC unit, the change in pressure can cause the chlorodifluoromethane to act differently. As the warm air, moist from your house moves over the AC’s evaporator, the moisture will freeze and condense on the coils, and ice will begin to form!
You might not notice a change in your system’s performance with minor frost, but too much ice will affect the airflow.
Eventually, the ice will act as an insulator and prevent the air conditioning system from functioning correctly, and the R22 refrigerant will evaporate faster. When the refrigerant level gets too low, your air conditioner cannot freeze the line. The ice may melt, and then you will notice that the airflow behavior has stopped — but you are not getting any cooling from the system.
If your air conditioner does not cool anymore, it is likely that it has water damage. It is recommended that you have an HVAC professional inspect your home as soon as possible to repair it.
2. Poor Airflow
If your AC cannot get enough air, then there will not be enough heat (from the warm air in your home) to prevent the condensation on the coil from turning into ice.
Check and replace your air filters first. Even if they are clean, inadequate airflow could still be the issue.
Inspect all the air vents in your home, holding your hand in front of them to feel for air leaking from the sides of the grate.
You will want to also look for blocked ducts, closed or blocked grates, and closed dampers.
3. Dirty Coils
A dirty air conditioner coil is the third most common cause of AC freezes. Again, ice obstructs the proper airflow of your system — so what starts as a little bit of frost can spiral out of control into a solid block of ice.
One of the reasons your evaporator coils can freeze is that apart from cooling the air inside your home, air conditioners also dehumidify it. The coils pull the water out of the air, which makes condensation builds upon them.
Usually, this is not a problem because the condensation droplets fall off the coils into the drip pan. But when the drip pan overflows, the evaporator coils will become waterlogged and freeze.
Dirty coils can cause freezing because the layer of dirt on top of the coils can prevent them from absorbing the water quickly. Regular checkups from an HVAC professional can keep your AC’s coils clean.
4. Damaged Blower Fan
Your air conditioner blower fan helps get cold air where it needs to go and get the warm air outside.
As the air cools inside of your air conditioner, it becomes denser and does not travel as well. The blower fan helps “suck” the hot air out of your home, which the denser cold air moves to replace.
How efficiently your air conditioner creates cool air and makes it available to you is a hundred percent dependent on your unit having the correct balance of air pressure and airflow.
Oftentimes your blower fan can become damaged or break during operation. When your blower fan is on the fritz, it significantly changes the airflow inside your air handler. If there is too much condensation build-up on the coils, then the water droplets will not drain or evaporate properly.
A broken blower fan can also cause a refrigerant line to freeze without the hot air moving over the proper parts. Be careful if your refrigerant line is frozen! The freeze can easily back up to your condenser unit outside, causing problems.
What to Do When Your Air Conditioner Unit Freezes Up
The first step when trying to fix your frozen AC is to turn the unit off, if your AC is still trying to cool, it will continue forming frost.
In lots of cases, there may be a need for you to speed up the heating setting of the thermostat to speed up the thawing.
Be sure to watch the water levels in the unit while your air conditioner is thawing. If the drain pan inside the evaporator coil overflows, you can experience water damage in your air conditioner.