How to Fix a Frozen Air Conditioner

February 23, 2015

Summer’s coming (believe it or not) and here's an often cited scenario with the average homeowner: They’re at home, minding their own business, happily indulging a bowl of popcorn and watching Netflix, when all of a sudden – that distant awful sound; drip... drip... drip. They glance over to see the cat licking at a puddle that's steadily forming on the bathroom floor. In a flash: Anxiety, stress, and that ”oh brother!” feeling. Where did the leak come from?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? Nope – the central air conditioner is frozen solid. This can strike anywhere, from Columbus 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 Columbus area home. Usually there are two factors why the evaporator coil may freeze:

  1. Restricted air flow
  2. Low refrigerant

Either way, the ending effect is that the air conditioner's evaporator coil will be unable to properly transfer heat, and in effect '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. In short, the A/C just turned 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 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. Check to ensure that the airflow around your system is unrestricted. Replace the furnace or air handler's filter along with any return air filters. Open all the registers completely and confirm that they are not blocked by furniture or drapes.
  3. Call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. 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 an expensive repair. When your AC freezes over it can lead to damage to the compressor. Replacing your compressor could cost as much as a downpayment on a new system. Actually, many homeowners are forced to decide between installing a new system and repairing the damaged one. If you follow the steps above and quickly call a NATE-certified technician, you stand a better chance of having a less expensive emergency.

Your technician will advise you of the exact cause and how to avoid the issue from occurring 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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