When your house feels hot and stuffy, the first thing you probably do is check your air conditioner to make sure it's working. When you check your unit, you may be surprised to see it coated in ice. It's a shock to see a frozen air conditioner when it's hot and sunny outside, but it is actually a fairly common problem. Here's what to do when you encounter this situation.
Turn Off Your AC
Thawing out your HVAC system is the first step. Turn it off completely, or turn off the air conditioner and let the fan blow air over the ice. Either way, it will take a few hours for all the ice to melt inside and out. Be prepared for water to drip and leak on your floor as the ice melts. Put down towels or protect your carpet, so you won't have a big mess to clean up. Even if you don't want to try and fix your AC yourself, you should still turn it off so it can start thawing. An HVAC contractor won't be able to inspect or repair your unit while it is frozen.
Check For Blocked Air Flow
One reason an air conditioner freezes is because there is not enough air flowing over the coils. This allows the coils to get too cold and then humidity causes water to collect on the coils and freeze. The ice keeps building and building until your air conditioner stops working or you fix the problem.
The first place to look is the filter. If you've neglected your filter for several months, that could be the cause of your problem. Pull the filter out and see if it is blocked with dust. If so, replace the filter and then test your air conditioner by turning it back on once all the ice has thawed.
You should also check for other sources of air obstruction such as dirty coils or blocked air vents. Clean them if necessary, so your HVAC will have maximum airflow when you turn it back on.
Have The Refrigerant Checked
The other main cause of a freezing air conditioner is problems with the refrigerant. If refrigerant is low, condensation on the coils increases. The condensation turns into ice, which accumulates into a big chunk that blocks cool air flow. If your refrigerant is low, it's hard for your HVAC unit to keep your home cool even if it isn't frozen, so this is something you definitely want fixed. If your air conditioner freezes again after you change the filter and cleared air obstructions, then call a contractor to check the refrigerant level in your AC. If that's the problem, you'll need a contractor to make the repairs and recharge the refrigerant, since that isn't a DIY job you can typically do on your own.
While those are the two main causes of air conditioner freezing problems, other things might be to blame, too, such as obstructed ducts, wrong filter size, wrong type of filter, ducts that are too small, and running your air conditioner when the temperatures cool down significantly at night. If cleaning your HVAC and ensuring it has adequate levels of refrigerant don't fix the problem, you'll need a contractor's help to figure out what is wrong.
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