Like any other electrical device, air conditioners experience their share of operational problems. One frequent problem is a thin layer of ice developing on the unit.
An air conditioner works by passing hot air over the evaporator coil, which is cooled by the refrigerant. The fan then pushes out the cool air into your home. The refrigerant absorbs the heat and passes it outside. When something goes wrong with this process, the air conditioner can freeze up.
Is a frozen AC unit dangerous?
The answer is NO. But it could become an expensive repair if you leave the unit ON.
What causes an air conditioner to freeze up?
- Bad air flow — When the AC unit is unable to push cold air out into the room and remove humidity, condensation may form on the coils and create a layer of ice.
- Low refrigerant — If the AC unit is low on refrigerant, the unit will have low pressure, which causes the refrigerant to expand too much and can also cause the coils to freeze.
- Malfunctioning component — If a fan, compressor, or expansion device fails, the pressure in the AC unit may change, which can cause the coils to freeze.
Things you can do:
- Unthaw the AC unit by turning the thermostat to “off” and the fan to “on.” Turning the unit off stops the condenser from running. Turning the fan on will push air through the air handler and help defrost the ice. Make sure your drain line is unclogged though because this process is going to create A LOT of water and that water is going to need to go somewhere. See the next two steps while you are waiting for the ice to melt.
- Check the air filters to make sure they are clean. A dirty air filter can block the air flow. Air filters should be changed every one to three months, per the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Check that your air ducts are not blocked. Open all the supply and return vents throughout your home — and make sure no draperies, clothing, furniture, or other objects are blocking the openings.
Things a trained HVAC professional should do:
- Check the AC coolant levels
- Check for refrigerant leaks
- Clean the evaporator coils
- Check for mechanical problems
Ice on your AC unit can come as a surprise if you aren’t aware that it can happen. To reduce the chances of it happening again — or, to prevent it from happening — you may want to consider a service maintenance plan. The trained, pro-active technicians at Millian Aire will check and maintain your air conditioner to reduce the chance of you having to experience any down time of your unit.