How to Fix a Frozen Air Conditioner

February 23, 2015

Summer’s coming (we promise) and here's an all-to-familiar scenario with the average homeowner: They’re at home, minding their own business, enjoying a bowl of popcorn and watching Netflix, when they notice that terrible sound; drip... drip... drip. They look over to see the dog licking at a puddle that's gradually forming on the bathroom floor. Just like that, the mood changes: Worry, stress, and that ”oh brother!” feeling. What caused the leak?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? Nope – the central air conditioner is frozen solid. This can occur anywhere, from Mobile to Timbuktu, regardless of summer heat.

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Why Air Conditioners Freeze

When a central air conditioner freezes up, what actually freezes is the condenser unit's evaporator coil. This component of the air conditioner transfers (evaporates) heat from the inside to the outside of your Mobile area home. The two main reasons why the evaporator coil may freeze:

  1. The restriction of the system’s airflow
  2. Low refrigerant

Either way, the outcome is that the air conditioner's evaporator coil cannot operate to properly dissipate heat, and consequently 'overcools' itself. The result of this super-cooling is condensation (that's water formation), and finally ice forms from that condensation as it cools below the freezing point. In short, the A/C has morphed into an old-school icebox.

What Can You Do When Your A/C Freezes?

  1. Turn the unit completely off at the thermostat, and do not just move up the temperature on the thermostat. It is important that 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 as well as any return air filters. Open all the registers completely and confirm that they are not impeded by furniture or curtains.
  3. Call Climate Control Service Experts. The air conditioning system needs to be serviced by a professional that is NATE-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 turn into a pricey repair. When your air conditioner ices over it can lead to a totaled compressor. Replacing your compressor could easily cost as much as a downpayment on a new system. In fact, many people are forced to decide between installing a new system vs repairing the old one. If you act quickly and call a NATE-certified technician, you stand a better chance of having a less expensive repair.

Your technician will diagnose the situation and how to avoid the issue from repeating in the future. 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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