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Why does my air conditioner freeze-up?

July 31, 2014

Why does my air conditioner freeze-up?

You may be shocked to find the coils on your air conditioner covered in solid ice on the hottest day of year; however, this bizarre sight is relatively common. Ice forming on your air conditioning unit is known as an air conditioner freeze-up. There are a several common problems that could lead to this phenomenon.

Insufficient airflow is one of the leading causes of an air conditioner freeze-up. AC units rely on the assumption that free flowing air passes through the system and is blown out once it is cooled. There are several underlying issues that could make this untrue. These issues could include, damaged blower motors, obstructed or undersized air ducts, and dirty air filters or evaporator coils. When these issues restrict airflow, the temperature of the coils will drop below freezing and the humidity that collects on the unit will freeze over. Once the ice builds up, it can seriously affect your system’s ability to operate effectively.

Another issue that can cause an AC freeze-up is a refrigerant deficiency. Refrigerant is a vital component in allowing your system to cool your home. When you have your system professionally inspected or tuned-up, the technician should ensure that it is operating with an appropriate amount of refrigerant. If your system begins to leak, insufficient levels of refrigerant will lower the pressure in your unit’s evaporator coil. This allows humidity in the air to collect and freeze on your unit.

An air conditioner freeze-up can cause serious issues with your system if it is not dealt with in a timely manner. The first thing you should do when you notice ice build-up on your air conditioning unit is to turn it off. After a few hours, when the unit has entirely defrosted, you should begin to check your unit’s airflow. Check the ductwork, filters, and the central air intake register for signs of blockage. Simply cleaning the ductwork, cleaning or replacing the filters, and clearing any blockages from the system may be enough to prevent the issue from occurring again. If you don’t see any signs of blocked airflow or clearing the system of debris did not solve the issue, the problem probably lies with the refrigerant. At this point, it is usually necessary to contact a professionally trained technician to inspect your system. They will be able to measure your system’s refrigerant levels and locate and repair any leaks.

The best way to prevent any air conditioning unit issues, from a freeze-up to a total system failure, is to take preventative maintenance measures. These can include efforts at home, such as adjusting the thermostat to give your unit a break when your home is unoccupied or regularly cleaning and replacing your filters. However, having your system regularly inspected and serviced by industry professionals is the most surefire method to ensure that is able to perform efficiently. At Climate Tech Air Conditioning and Heating, we can provide the preventative maintenance and emergency repair service to protect the condition of your HVAC system and the comfort of you and your loved ones.

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