Tips to Prevent a Frozen Air Conditioner This Summer

Tips to Prevent a Frozen Air Conditioner This Summer | Paitson Bros.So what’s up with a frozen air conditioner? After all, they’re supposed to be cold, aren’t they? Actually, only down to a point. If the temperature of the indoor evaporator coil drops below freezing, ice forms on coil surfaces as water vapor naturally condenses out of air passing through the coil. Once this process begins, the growing accumulation of ice strangles system airflow and cooling performance declines. As a result, the air conditioner runs increasingly longer “on” cycles to reach the thermostat setting. Eventually, it will be running nonstop until a safety override switch — or a major component failure — shuts it down.

Loss of cooling performance and potential component damage aren’t the only downside of a frozen air conditioner. Frequently, expanding ice extends beyond the limits of the drip pan below that catches condensate runoff. As the ice melts, water damage may occur in the immediate area.

Causes of a Frozen Air Conditioner

  • Low air flow — Sufficient warm air flowing through the coil is necessary to prevent coil temperatures from plunging too low, triggering ice formation. The most common cause of low airflow is a dirty or clogged air filter. Change the filter monthly during the cooling season. Other possible airflow issues such as leaky ductwork should be diagnosed by a qualified technician.
  • Low refrigerant level — Ironically, refrigerant actually vaporizes faster at lower pressure. Thus, coil temperature may drop below freezing when refrigerant is low. Insufficient refrigerant is almost always the result of a small leak somewhere. A service tech can troubleshoot the leak and repair it, then add refrigerant to bring the level back to specs.
  • Dirty coil — An evaporator coil coated with dust, dirt or mold doesn’t extract heat out of the air efficiently. Poor heat transfer allows the coil temperature to drop excessively low and causes condensate freezing. Coil inspection and cleaning is part of annual preventive maintenance procedure offered by your HVAC contractor.

Since 1922, Paitson Bros. has resolved issues like a frozen air conditioner and kept Wabash Valley homeowners in cool comfort all summer long.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Terre Haute, Indiana about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about frozen air conditioners and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 812-645-6859.

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “GSPhotography/Shutterstock”

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One Comment

  1. Posted July 8, 2016 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    It seems like too many homeowners do not clean the coil themselves regularly, or have a professional, like your company, do so. This certainly goes a long way in protecting against a freeze up.

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