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 sitting in their house, minding their own business, happily indulging a bowl of popcorn and watching Netflix, when they notice that terrible sound; drip... drip... drip. They look over to see the cat licking at a puddle that's slowly forming on the bathroom floor. Just like that, the mood changes: Concern, stress, and that sinking feeling. What caused the leak?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? Nope – the air conditioning equipment may be frozen. This can happen anywhere, from Hillsborough to Africa, regardless of weather.

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Why Air Conditioners Freeze

The evaporator coil is the component of a central A/C unit that actually freezes. This component of the air conditioner transfers (evaporates) heat from the inside to the outside of your Hillsborough area home. There are two primary reasons the evaporator coil may freeze:

  1. Airflow restriction
  2. Insufficient refrigerant

Either way, the result is that the air conditioner's evaporator coil does not properly dissipate heat, and in essence 'overcools' itself. The impact of this super-cooling is condensation (that's water formation), and eventually ice forms from that condensation as it cools below the freezing point. In short, the A/C just turned into an old-school icebox.

What Can 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. Ensure the A/C system is completely OFF.
  2. Confirm that there is nothing restricting the airflow to the system. Replace the furnace or air handler's filter along with any return air filters. Open all the registers completely and verify that they are not impeded by furniture or drapes.
  3. Call Fras-Air/General Service Experts. The air conditioning system needs to be serviced by a professional that is ACE-certified 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 unit ices over it can lead to a totaled compressor. Replacing your compressor can cost as much as a downpayment on a new system. In fact, many homeowners are forced to decide between installing a new system and repairing the old one. If you move fast, follow the instructions, and call a ACE-certified technician, you stand a better chance of having a less expensive emergency.

Your technician will quickly analyze the problem and how to avoid the issue from happening again. If a leak exists (and that is rare, but possible), the leak has to be repaired or the unit will likely freeze again.
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