How to Fix a Frozen Air Conditioner

February 23, 2015

Summer’s coming (we promise) and here's an often cited scenario with the average homeowner: They’re sitting in their house, minding their own business, having a bowl of popcorn and watching their favorite TV show, when all of a sudden – that distant terrible sound; drip... drip... drip. They glance over to see the cat licking at a puddle that's slowly forming on the dining room floor. Suddenly: Anxiety, stress, and that sinking feeling. What caused the leak?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? No – the air conditioning equipment may be frozen. This can occur anywhere, from Kitchener to Timbuktu, regardless of weather.

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Why Air Conditioners Freeze

The evaporator coil is the component of a central A/C unit that actually freezes. This component of the air conditioner transfers (evaporates) heat from the inside to the outside of your Kitchener area home. There are two primary reasons the evaporator coil may freeze:

  1. Airflow restriction
  2. Insufficient refrigerant

Either way, the ending effect is that the air conditioner's evaporator coil cannot operate to properly dissipate heat, and in essence 'overcools' itself. The result of this super-cooling is condensation (that's water formation), and eventually ice forms from that condensation as it cools below the freezing point. Yep, 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 don’t try to thaw the system by increasing the temperature at the thermostat. Just make sure 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 along with any return air filters. Open all the registers completely and ensure that they are not impeded by furniture or curtains.
  3. Call Hammond Plumbing & Heating. 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 lead to a costly repair. When your air conditioner freezes over it can lead to damage to the compressor. Replacing your compressor can cost as much as a downpayment on a high efficiency model. In fact, many people are forced to pick between installing a new system or repairing the old one. If you move fast, follow the instructions, and call a NATE-certified technician, you have better odds of having a less expensive emergency.

Your technician will diagnose the situation and how to avoid the issue from repeating in the future. If a leak was really the cause (and that is rare, but possible), the leak has to be repaired or the unit will most likely freeze again.
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