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 relaxing in their living room, minding their own business, happily indulging a bowl of popcorn and watching a movie, when they notice that dreadful sound; drip... drip... drip. They glance over to see the cat licking at a puddle that's slowly forming on the dining room floor. Just like that, the mood changes: Anxiety, stress, and that sinking feeling. Where did the leak come from?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? No – the central air conditioner is frozen solid. This can occur anywhere, from Kingston 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 Kingston area home. Usually there are two factors why the evaporator coil may freeze:

  1. Airflow restriction
  2. Insufficient refrigerant

Either way, the ending effect 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 short, the A/C transformed into an old-school icebox.

What Should You Do When Your A/C Freezes?

  1. Turn the unit completely off at the thermostat, and don’t try to thaw the system by increasing the temperature at the thermostat. 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 along with any return air filters. Open all the registers completely and verify that they are not blocked by furniture or curtains.
  3. Call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. The air conditioning system needs to be professionally inspected 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 a pricey repair. When your air conditioner freezes over it can lead to a compressor replacement. Replacing your compressor could easily cost as much as a downpayment on a high efficiency model. Actually, many homeowners are forced to decide between installing a new system vs repairing the old model. If you follow the steps above and quickly call a ACE-certified technician, you have better odds of having a less expensive job.

Your technician will advise you of the exact cause and how to avoid the issue from repeating in the future. If a leak exists (and that is rare, but possible), the leak has to be repaired or the unit will most likely freeze again.
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