How to Fix a Frozen Air Conditioner

February 23, 2015

Summer’s coming (we promise) and here's a typical scenario with the average homeowner: They’re sitting in their house, minding their own business, having a bowl of popcorn and watching Netflix, when they notice that terrible sound; drip... drip... drip. They glance over to see the dog licking at a puddle that's gradually forming on the kitchen floor. Suddenly: Worry, stress, and that ”oh brother!” feeling. How did the leak start?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? Not necessarily – the air conditioning equipment may be frozen. This can strike anywhere, from Hurricane to Africa, regardless of weather.

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Why Air Conditioners Freeze

The evaporator coil is the component of a central A/C unit that actually freezes. This component of the air conditioner transfers (evaporates) heat from the inside to the outside of your Hurricane area home. Usually there are two factors why the evaporator coil may freeze:

  1. Restricted air flow
  2. Insufficient refrigerant

Either way, the outcome is that the air conditioner's evaporator coil cannot operate to properly dissipate heat, and in essence 'overcools' itself. The impact of this super-cooling is condensation (that's water formation), and over time ice forms from that condensation as it cools below the freezing point. In other words, the A/C transformed into an old-school icebox.

What Might You Do When Your A/C Freezes?

  1. Turn the unit completely off at the thermostat, and do not increase the thermostat temperature as a way to melt the frost on the coils. Just make sure the A/C system is completely OFF.
  2. Confirm that there is nothing restricting the airflow to the system. Replace the furnace or air handler's filter along with any return air filters. Open all the registers completely and verify that they are not obstructed by furniture or curtains.
  3. Call Teays Valley Service Experts. The air conditioning system needs to be inspected by a NATE-certified professional to ensure there are no refrigerant leaks or damage to the equipment. Simply schedule a Performance Inspection or Repair Diagnostic online, or call to talk to a live person right away.

What Does it Cost to Repair?

This can become an expensive repair. When your unit freezes over it can lead to a totaled compressor. Replacing your compressor could cost as much as a downpayment on a high efficiency model. Actually, many people are forced to decide between installing a new system vs repairing the old unit. If you follow the steps above and quickly call a NATE-certified technician, you stand a better chance of getting a less expensive emergency.

Your technician will diagnose the situation and how to avoid the issue from repeating in the future. If a leak was really the cause (and that is rare, but possible), the leak has to be repaired or the unit will likely freeze again.
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