Why is My Air Conditioner Freezing Up?
- June 5, 2018
- Posted by: AtelAir
- Category: Air Conditioning
So you’ve got ice on your air conditioner.
You’re not alone. This happens to homeowners all the time in the summer.
The problem is that most homeowners have no idea what to do when they find ice on the inside component of their air conditioner, or what caused the ice in the first place.
The most common reasons your air conditioner is freezing up are:
- Refrigerant levels
- Mechanical issues
Let’s dive into more detail.
1. Your Refrigerant Level is Too Low
Refrigerant leaks are bad news for your air conditioner.
You need a consistent level of refrigerant in order to have a properly-working AC. Most of the time, there’s no problem.
But if you spring a leak, the amount of refrigerant being compressed and expanded changes. Refrigerant that is being forced to expand the same amount actually creates a cooler temperature.
We know that sounds odd: after all, don’t we want cooler temperatures?
Yes – in our homes. But not in our air conditioners.
When air conditioners cool your home, they’re also acting as a dehumidifier. All that moisture is being passed over the coils, creating condensation.
If the coils drop below freezing, that condensation will freeze.
How to Fix It
Ice is the most obvious sign of a refrigerant leak, but could be a result of another issue.
You should also listen for a hissing sound coming from the indoor portion of your AC, and check whether cool air is coming through your vents.
Even if you’re not sure what the problem is, you should turn off your air conditioner and call us right away.
2. Restricted Airflow
When your AC doesn’t get enough air, it can’t work properly.
Think about when you have a stuffy nose, whether due to allergies or a cold. You try to breathe in, but you’re barely getting anything.
That’s what it’s like for an air conditioner. But unlike us, they don’t have any other options for moving air. Instead, your air conditioner just keeps going.
With a lack of airflow, your condenser coils will drop below freezing. Just like with a refrigerant leak, the condensation will ice up.
How to Fix It
Most often restricted airflow is caused by a dirty air filter. This is something you can fix yourself.
The filter is located in the air handler of your furnace. Make sure everything is turned off before removing it.
If it’s a disposable filter, you’ll have to replace it. New filters can be purchased at places like Home Depot at affordable prices – just make sure it’s the right size!
If it’s a reusable filter, clean it with warm water and gentle soap. Let it dry completely before installing it back in the air handler.
On average, you should at least check your air filter every 30 days. What can happen if you don’t is terrifying.
3. Mechanical Failures
Without consistent tune ups, it’s a lot more likely that your air conditioner will experience some sort of mechanical problem. This could include:
- A broken motor
- A faulty blower fan
Without these components, there won’t be a proper balance of airflow and air pressure. This can lead to your air conditioner freezing up.
How to Fix It
Any mechanical problems should be fixed by professionals. If you’ve established that it’s not your air filter, and there’s nothing blocking your vents or ducts, it’s better to have us take a look at it. We’ll be able to pinpoint the exact problem.
4. It’s Not Warm Enough to Be Running Your Air Conditioner
As we’ve said before, when the coils in your air conditioner get too cold, all that condensation creates an icy cage. This is especially true when it’s too cold to be running your air conditioner in the first place.
You shouldn’t turn on your air conditioner until the temperature reaches between 18-22° Celsius. Until then, you really don’t need it.
How to Fix It
Defrosting your air conditioner should be enough to fix this particular issue. Once all the ice is gone, turn everything back on and set the thermostat a few degrees lower than the indoor temperature. After a few minutes, you should feel cool air.
If you don’t feel cool air, the ice could be symptomatic of one of the other problems we mentioned.
No Matter The Cause, Always Turn Off and Defrost Your AC
To de-ice your air conditioner, you have to completely turn it off and let it sit. There’s no 20-minute trick to make it go faster – you just have to let time do its thing. This could take as long as 24 hours.
It’s important that you let your AC completely defrost. Running it while it’s iced up will cause tremendous strain on the system, which could lead to more problems.
Prevent Icy Situations with Regular Maintenance
You can prevent icy situations in the future by investing in annual tune ups. Not only will tune ups prevent problems, but they’ll make your air conditioner more efficient.
A more efficient air conditioner will cost less to run. That means more money to spend on fun things.
We want to make using your air conditioner as affordable and efficient as possible. That’s why we have a V.I.P. program.
When you join the ATEL family, you get discounts on repairs, 7-days-a-week service, and scheduled tune ups. You don’t have to worry about whether or not you’ll get an appointment in time.
If your air conditioner is freezing up, or you just want to be 100% prepared for those 18°C+ days, have ATEL take care of you.