What Cause an Air Conditioner to Freeze Up?

June 17, 2013

It’s the middle of summer in Hanahan, SC, the sun is shining bright and everyone is donning a pair of shorts. You take a quick peek at your air conditioner unit, and you spy a chunk of ice covering the unit. Although it may seem bizarre, it’s a common sight during the summertime. Despite its commonality, it is abnormal for ice to form on an AC unit, and it is definitely a reason for concern.

Why is There Ice on My Air Conditioner?

There are a wide variety of issues that could be causing your air conditioner to freeze up. Here’s list of some of the more common ones:

  • Insufficient Airflow: Anything that impedes airflow will cause the temperature of the evaporator coil to fall below freezing. Humidity collects on the evaporator coil and causes a build-up of ice along with reducing the unit’s cooling capacity. Dirt buildup on the evaporator coil, dirty air filters, undersized or obstructed ducts and faulty blower motors can all restrict air flow.
  • Problems with the Refrigerant: Low levels of refrigerant and refrigerant leaks both cause pressure drops in the unit’s evaporator coil. This causes moisture in the air to freeze and build up on the coil.
  • Outdoor Temperature: Many outside air conditioning units do not operate well in temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. When night temperatures are too low, the unit will not function right and freeze ups can occur.

Steps to Take When Your Air Conditioner Freezes Up

The build-up of frost and ice is a definite indication that your air conditioner is not operating properly. When there is a decline in your unit’s cooling, ice build-up should be the first thing to check for. If there is ice on the unit, the problem should be addressed quickly. Allowing your unit to run when it’s frozen can cause significant damage to the unit, especially the compressor. The first thing you should do is to turn the unit off and allow it to defrost completely. Check for dirty air filters, inspect the drain line for blockage, increase the fan motor speed and take the appropriate action. If you’re unable to fix the problem, it is likely that your unit is in need of an AC repair.

If you do need an AC repair, you can trust the experts at Berkeley Heating & Air Conditioning. Our technicians are highly trained, NATE-certified and have all the tools necessary to troubleshoot serious airflow problems and repair refrigerant leaks. It may also be beneficial to sign up for one of our affordable air conditioner maintenance plans. Our air conditioner maintenance plans include many of the service tasks that can help prevent freeze ups like inspecting for leaks and adjusting the blower system. Call us today to sign up.

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