In most cases, ice makes a great way to cool down on a hot summer day. When it comes to ice on your air conditioner, though, the exact opposite is true. Unfortunately, ice freezes up an air conditioner and will prevent it from working properly, leaving you with a warm house and plenty of frustration. To help restore comfort to your home, you need to be able to identify the cause of the ice buildup on your air conditioning unit. To help in your diagnosis, here are four reasons why your air conditioner may be freezing up during use and what you can do to remedy the situation.
Dirty Air Filter
For such an inexpensive component, your air filter determines a lot when it comes to the proper operation of your HVAC system. One aspect that it controls is the amount of air that is able to flow into your system. Interestingly, if there is a lack of airflow over your air conditioner’s evaporator coils, it puts them at risk of freezing up.
This is because the warm, humid air from your home helps regulate the temperature of the refrigerant inside the coils, meaning both refrigerant and warm air must be present in the proper amounts to keep the system operating correctly. A dirty air filter causes a lack of airflow, leading to frozen coils.
Luckily, this is a simple fix that any homeowner can do. Visit your local hardware store and buy a new air filter. Make sure you turn your air conditioning off and the unit is not running, then switch out the dirty air filter for the new, clean one. You will likely notice your air blows colder and smells fresher when you get rid of the dirty, old filter.
Speaking of your air conditioner’s evaporator coils, if this component of your system is dirty, you’re likely to experience some frost. In order to function properly, the evaporator coils need to be able to remove humidity from the air that flows past, since dryer air feels cooler on the skin.
Since a lot of excess moisture results from this process, the coils have to be able to drain the moisture into the drip pan. If the coils are dirty, the moisture will get stuck in the dirt and be held on the coils, causing them to freeze.
Cleaning the coils yourself is a more difficult task than simply changing an air filter. Because they are hard to reach and access, cleaning these coils requires air conditioning services to intervene.
Another component of your air conditioner also uses coils: the condenser. This is the unit that sits outside and is responsible for expelling the hot air that is removed from your home and for changing the refrigerant from a gas to a liquid.
One part of the condenser is a series of tiny tubes that run along the exterior of the unit. These tubes are part of what helps expel the heat. If your condenser unit is blocked due to dirt, debris, or some other obstruction, your unit is likely to freeze up.
Fixing the blocked condenser on your own may also be a tall order for the average homeowner. However, you can prevent these blockages from occurring by properly covering your outdoor unit during the offseason. This will keep leaves, sticks, and other debris from getting trapped inside, making your AC less effective in the summer.
As mentioned, the refrigerant in your air conditioner plays an important role in removing heat from your home. If the refrigerant is low, this heat removal process can’t take place as efficiently, which could cause the refrigerant line to freeze.
Since your refrigerant line is a closed system, low refrigerant levels usually indicate an issue of some kind. In many cases, a small hole or crack in the line is the cause of the issue, as it allows the refrigerant to slowly leak out until there’s not enough left to operate efficiently. Finding a small hole like this will take a specialized professional’s diagnosis.
If your air conditioner only freezes up once or twice and then operates normally after that, there’s probably nothing to be concerned about. However, if your system is freezing up repeatedly and is not running at optimum performance, you definitely need to call in some assistance. This constant freezing and thawing puts significant strain on your system and is indicative of a problem that needs to be addressed.
Anica is a professional content and copywriter who graduated from the University of San Francisco. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. You can connect with Anica on Twitter @AnicaOaks.