When your air conditioner is running but your home is gradually getting warmer, you have a problem. Hold your hand over the supply registers. Do you feel little to no airflow coming from them? Your air conditioner is frozen. Whether you see any ice or not, your air conditioning unit is clearly letting you know there is ice in it. There are steps you immediately need to take to prevent damage to your unit’s compressor and further waste of money.
Handling Air Conditioner Freezes
Turn your A/C unit off immediately to prevent any (or further) damage to your compressor. While waiting for the accumulated ice to melt, find the drain for the condensation pan and be sure it is not blocked. If it is, unblock it. If you can, turn on the air conditioner’s fan without running the compressor. This will accelerate the melting of the ice. Once all the ice is melted and unblocked drains are clear, turn your unit back on. It should begin to cool your home again right away.
What Causes My A/C to Freeze?
Several maintenance-related issues are usually the culprits of air conditioner freezes. One of the main ones is low airflow due to a dirty air filter. When the filter is dirty, less air flow is delivered to the evaporator coil for cooling and distributing throughout the house. Having a sufficient flow of humid, hot air is important to prevent stress on your A/C compressor and to flow over the coil to keep it from freezing. Clean your filter monthly. If you close supply registers in unused rooms to save money, be sure not to close more than one quarter of your home’s total registers to prevent a freeze. Closing too many will overload the system.
The unit’s fan has to blow fast enough to send the right volume of air streaming over your evaporator coil. If slow fan speed caused your unit to freeze, a HVAC technician can increase the speed of your fan to eliminate this problem. If your air conditioner runs all night, it will eventually lead to a frozen unit. Your thermostat can be adjusted to prevent this. If an adjustment does not correct this, then your thermostat needs maintenance or replacement. When your refrigerant level is too low, either from improper charging or leakage, these low levels will make the evaporator coil too cold and lead to a freeze. Call an HVAC professional to check the unit and repair/recharge your coolant level.
As mentioned earlier, make sure your window unit is tilted correctly. The indoor portion of the unit should be slightly higher than the outdoor portion for proper drainage and the drain hole should remain open. The central air conditioner coil removes water vapor from that humid, hot air that blows across it. This water drips into a drainage pan then out through a floor drain unless the drain becomes blocked. When blocked, it freezes all the way back to the coil, blocks the drain and increased the trouble. Check and clear your drain each week during the hottest weeks of the year.
Regular Maintenance is the Best Prevention
The best way to prevent a frozen air conditioner is also the proper way to maintain the life of your unit. Change your filter each month and have a thorough performance evaluation check of your system’s components yearly.
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