How to Fix a Frozen Air Conditioner

February 23, 2015

Summer’s coming (believe it or not) 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 their favorite TV show, when suddenly he/she hears 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 sinking feeling. What caused the leak?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? Nope – the central air conditioner is frozen solid. This can occur anywhere, from Raleigh to Thailand, 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. There are two primary reasons the evaporator coil may freeze:

  1. Restricted air flow
  2. Insufficient refrigerant

Either way, the outcome is that the air conditioner's evaporator coil will be unable to properly disperse the heat, and in essence 'overcools' itself. The result 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 do not just move up the temperature on 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 obstructed by furniture or drapes.
  3. Call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. 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 turn into a pricey repair. When your air conditioner ices over it can lead to a compressor replacement. Replacing your compressor could easily cost as much as a downpayment on a brand new air conditioner. In fact, many people are forced to choose between installing a new system vs 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 job.

Your technician will advise you of the exact cause and how to avoid the issue from repeating in the future. If a leak exists (and that is rare, but possible), the leak has to be repaired or the unit will most likely freeze again.
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