How to Fix a Frozen Air Conditioner

February 23, 2015

Summer’s coming (we promise) and here's a common scenario with the average homeowner: They’re relaxing in their living room, minding their own business, having a bowl of popcorn and watching a movie, when they notice that awful sound; drip... drip... drip. They glance over to see the household pet licking at a puddle that's gradually forming on the kitchen floor. Suddenly: Worry, stress, and that “how much will this cost?” feeling. What caused the leak?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? No – the central air conditioner is frozen solid. This can happen anywhere, from Raleigh to Timbuktu, regardless of summer heat.

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Why Air Conditioners Freeze

The part of the air conditioner that actually freezes is known as the evaporator coil. This component of the air conditioner transfers (evaporates) heat from the inside to the outside of your Raleigh area home. The two main reasons why the evaporator coil may freeze:

  1. Airflow restriction
  2. Lack of sufficient refrigerant

Either way, the result is that the air conditioner's evaporator coil will be unable to properly disperse the heat, and in essence 'overcools' itself. The impact of this super-cooling is condensation (that's water formation), and finally ice forms from that condensation as it cools below the freezing point. Yep, the A/C transformed into an old-school icebox.

What Should You Do When Your A/C Freezes?

  1. Turn the A/C completely off at the thermostat, and don’t try to thaw the system by increasing the temperature at the thermostat. Just make sure the A/C system is completely OFF.
  2. Check to ensure that the airflow around your system is unrestricted. Replace the furnace or air handler's filter as well as any return air filters. Open all the registers completely and confirm that they are not blocked by furniture or drapes.
  3. Call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. The air conditioning system needs to be professionally inspected 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 a pricey repair. When your air conditioner ices over it can lead to damage to the compressor. Replacing your compressor could easily cost as much as a downpayment on a brand new air conditioner. Unfortunately, many people are forced to choose between installing a new system or repairing the old one. If you follow the steps above and quickly call a NATE-certified technician, you have better odds of getting a less expensive repair.

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