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OMG! My Air Conditioning Unit Looks Like a Block of Ice!

Did Your Air Conditioner Freeze Over?

If you notice that on a hot day your home seems as hot and humid inside as it is outside, you just may have a frozen air conditioning system!

When your air conditioner is pushing out cool air, it’s caused by what’s known as the Joule-Thomson Effect. This is is a thermodynamic process that occurs when a fluid expands from high pressure to low pressure at constant enthalpy (Cryogenic Society). If something is thrown off in your system, it could freeze over and damage your unit. Your central air conditioner may be freezing up because of the following reasons:

  • • Insufficient airflow across the air conditioning unit’s inside evaporator coil
  • • Low levels of refrigerant
  • • Incorrect operating temperatures
  • • Even certain mechanical failures can all cause your system to freeze up

If you fail to address this issue quickly enough, your air conditioner may be permanently damaged. You can count on your local expert cooling technicians from ServiceMark Heating Cooling & Plumbing to provide a few simple tips that you can use to help determine the cause of the issue.

frozen air conditioner

Troubleshoot your AC system

Check the air conditioning filter

If the filter is a dark color and filled with dirt and debris, it must be replaced. The dirty filter could be restricting or completely blocking airflow causing decreased efficiency of the entire system, which could lead to a freeze up. In many cases, frozen coils can damage the fan or compressor by overheating them.

Restriction in airflow from your ductwork or extremely dirty ductwork

Your A/C system is designed to push and pull “conditioned” air through a balanced and precisely measured network of ducts. These ducts allow for optimal airflow, which minimizes the strain and stress on the system. When dirt builds up in your duct system, it alters and reduces the amount of air that can freely flow, unencumbered, through the system. When this happens, your system runs inefficiently, which could eventually lead to service issues in the future. It is strongly advised that you have your unit cleaned and thoroughly inspected each year.

ServiceMark offers service plans so that you can have peace of mind about your air conditioning unit running smoothly.

You might have a water leak coming from the indoor unit

During the cooling season, the normal operation of your A/C system produces volumes of condensation, which is supposed to run down the coils to a collection pan where it can be pumped out of the home or run into a drain. This condensation on the coils may freeze and when the coils start to defrost the ice that had formed, that excess water may overflow your collection pan and leak through the equipment and onto the floor.

Related Article: Ordinary Causes of Short Furnace Cycles

A system’s equipment refrigerant undercharge could also cause a freeze-up

If your system is low on refrigerant your evaporator coil’s temperature drops to below 32 degrees, causing moisture to freeze on the evaporator coil. This restricts the airflow, across the coil, which increases the problem. On central air conditioning systems that are severely undercharged, you may find ice outside on the outdoor unit’s compressor.

If the issue is just that your filter needs to be changed, you may be able to resolve the issue yourself.  Be sure to turn the AC unit OFF while leaving the fan ON (switch system settings to FAN ONLY) to allow the unit to gradually thaw out. Then change or clean your filter and turn the system back on, set the thermostat to the desired temperature, and check to see if the cooling equipment is operating properly. Allow ample time for your air conditioning system to remove the humidity in the air and start dropping the room temperature.

If you need to have a ServiceMark A/C professional come look at your system, make sure that you have defrosted the system completely and leave it turned off until the technician arrives. Your technician will not be able to properly check the system mechanics and refrigerant levels while the system is frozen.

Yearly maintenance is recommended to check for possible mechanical failures before they occur and to keep your system operating at peak efficiency.  Call your NATE (National Air Conditioning Technician Excellence) certified ServiceMark Heating Cooling & Plumbing cooling technicians to schedule an appointment to have your system evaluated and repaired.  We service homes throughout Eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware and Eastern Maryland.

Good news: ServiceMark can take care of your system in no time. Learn more about what we can do for your air conditioner!

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