How to Fix a Frozen Air Conditioner

February 23, 2015

Summer’s coming (as hard as it is to believe right now) and here's an often cited scenario with the average homeowner: They’re at home, minding their own business, having a bowl of popcorn and watching Netflix, when suddenly he/she hears terrible sound; drip... drip... drip. They turn their head to see the dog licking at a puddle that's steadily forming on the dining room floor. Just like that, the mood changes: Worry, stress, and that sinking feeling. Where did the leak come from?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? Nope – the air conditioning equipment may be frozen. This can occur anywhere, from Austin to Thailand, regardless of weather.

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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 Austin area home. The two main reasons why the evaporator coil may freeze:

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

Either way, the outcome is that the air conditioner's evaporator coil does not properly transfer heat, and in essence 'overcools' itself. The impact 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 other words, the A/C transformed into an old-school icebox.

What Should You Do When Your A/C Freezes?

  1. Turn the system completely off at the thermostat, and do not increase the thermostat temperature as a way to melt the frost on the coils. 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 and replace any return air filters. Open all the registers completely and ensure that they are not impeded by furniture or curtains.
  3. Call Strand Brothers Service Experts. The air conditioning system needs to be inspected by a NATE-certified professional 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 an expensive repair. When your unit ices over it can lead to a compressor replacement. Replacing your compressor could easily cost as much as a downpayment on a brand new air conditioner. In fact, many homeowners are forced to pick 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 job.

Your technician will advise you of the exact cause 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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