The summers in Orange County can be brutally hot, which makes air conditioning a must-have for every home or business. Unfortunately, there are many different issues that can cause your air conditioning to not cool properly or stop working altogether. One of the most common issues we see is that the AC freezes up. This can happen for a number of different reasons. Here is what you need to know if your AC is frozen.
How to Deal With a Frozen Air Conditioner
Your AC system can either freeze at the evaporator coils inside the building or at the condenser coils in the compressor unit outside. In most cases, the system will freeze both inside and outside. The most obvious sign that your AC is frozen is that hot air starts blowing out of your vents. As soon as you notice this issue, you should immediately check to see if the evaporator coil or compressor is frozen.
If your system is frozen, the first thing you should do is to shut off power to the system at your main circuit panel to prevent further ice from building up and also to ensure the system doesn’t get damaged. This is essential as you can quickly burn out the compressor motor if you attempt to run the system when it is frozen. Should this happen, it will ruin the AC compressor and you’ll have to have it replaced.
Once your system is turned off, you’ll then need to wait for everything to fully thaw out. This could take anywhere from a few hours to a full day depending on temperatures and how much ice has built up. It is important that you never try to chip off or otherwise manually remove any ice as this is likely to cause damage to the system and lead to a potentially costly repair bill.
If the evaporator coil is frozen, you may want to put some towels on the ground to absorb any water that may leak out. This is because as the coil thaws, it could overwhelm the condensate drain system and cause water to overflow from the drain pan.
After the system has fully thawed, you should then use paper towels or rags to dry the coils as well as you can. You can then turn the power back on, but you shouldn’t turn the AC on yet. Instead, set your thermostat to “Fan Only”, as this will circulate warm air and ensure the coils are fully dried before you turn the AC back on. After letting the fan run for 30 minutes or so, you can finally switch your thermostat back to cooling.
Most Common Reasons an AC Will Freeze Up and How to Prevent Them
Frozen air conditioners are a very common problem, but it usually takes a professional to fully diagnose and understand what is causing the issue. If your AC freezes up again soon after you’ve thawed it out, this is a definite sign that you need the assistance of a professional HVAC company.
Your air conditioner could freeze up for any of the following reasons:
- Dirty evaporator or condenser coils
- Insufficient or restricted airflow
- Debris clogging the outside of the compressor unit
- Insufficient refrigerant level due to a leak
- Faulty or malfunctioning blower motor
Dirty coils are one of the most common causes of a frozen AC. When dirt and dust collect on the coils, it essentially acts as insulation and can quickly cause the refrigerant to become too cold. When this happens, the condensation that collects on the coils will freeze before it can drip down into the condensate drain system. This can easily be avoided by regularly checking the coils. If they look dirty or have dust on them, all you need to do is gently wipe them down with a wet rag. The easiest way to prevent this and most other AC issues is to make sure you have your system professionally maintained every spring, as this will include a full cleaning and inspection of the entire cooling system.
Air conditioners are finely tuned systems, and they require a sufficient volume of warm air flowing over the coils to prevent the refrigerant from getting too cold and freezing. If the system isn’t receiving adequate airflow for one reason or another, it can cause the coils to quickly freeze.
The most common reason this happens is because the air filter is dirty and clogged, which can dramatically reduce the airflow coming into the system. This is why it is vital that you make sure to regularly check and replace your air filter. You should replace the air filter at least once every three months, or every four to six weeks during the middle of summer or winter when your HVAC system runs much more frequently.
A lack of sufficient airflow can also occur due to dirty or clogged supply or return air vents. Another possibility is that your ductwork is too small, improperly designed or leaking, all of which can reduce the amount of airflow.
Similar issues can also occur if your blower fan inside the air handler isn’t working correctly since it won’t be able to circulate enough air to keep the coils from freezing. In this situation, the fan will either need to be repaired or replaced.
Another common issue is that the sides of the compressor unit become clogged with leaves, tree cotton and other debris. As with most other issues, this can increase the refrigerant pressure and cause it to become too cold and the coils to freeze. Luckily, this issue is fairly simple to fix on your own. All you need to do is remove the panels from the outside of the compressor and clean out any debris.
Your air conditioner can also freeze if there isn’t sufficient refrigerant inside the system. Since the system is a closed loop, you shouldn’t really ever have to worry about the refrigerant level. That being said, tiny holes can develop in the refrigerant lines or the coils over time and allow the refrigerant to leak. This causes the refrigerant pressure to drop, which quickly lowers the temperature and allows the system to freeze. When this happens, the only option is to have a certified HVAC technician inspect your system to find and repair the leak. Once the leak is fixed, the technician will then add more refrigerant to the system so that it has the proper amount of pressure.
Call the Professionals
If you frequently have issues with your air conditioner freezing up, the experts at White Mechanical, Inc. can troubleshoot your system and repair whatever the underlying issue is. We repair and maintain all types and all brands of cooling equipment, and we are available 24/7 for any emergency situations. Our technicians also work on both residential and commercial heating systems. As a Lennox Premier Dealer, we can help when it comes time to replace your old furnace, AC or other HVAC equipment.
We are located in Foothills Ranch and have been providing exceptional heating and cooling services to customers throughout the Orange County area for 20 years. Visit our website or contact us for an appointment today!