You may find the summer heat to be sweltering outside your window, so you set the thermostat back just a few more degrees. Within a couple hours, you notice that you no longer feel the cool air pumping into your house. Sweat droplets are forming on the back of your neck. What in the world could be wrong?
When you walk outside to take a look at your air conditioning unit, you may very well see the ice buildup immediately. It may seem impossible for a unit that lives outside in the extreme humidity and heat to develop an ice chunk that size. Unfortunately, this is one of the most common summertime issues for HVAC technicians to address.
There’s nothing worse on a hot summer day than a frozen air conditioner.
What exactly causes your air conditioner to freeze during the summertime? Understanding what goes wrong inside the unit could be key to preventing issues in the upcoming seasons.
Reduced Air Flow
It’s no secret that changing your air filter is necessary for your HVAC system to run smoothly throughout the day. Many homeowners don’t realize that a clogged air filter can actually cause damage to their air conditioner though. In fact, it can prevent your air conditioner from running during the summer months.
How does a dirty air filter cause your system to freeze?
Well, when the air filter is full of dirt and debris, air can’t flow freely into your home. The air conditioner is producing colder air but it isn’t getting through to cool down your home. As a result, the cold air is becoming trapped inside your ductwork and eventually backs all the way up to the evaporator coils.
The evaporator coils already have condensation on them from the warm air that passes over this part of the unit. When the frigid air meant to cool your home passes over the coils instead, it can cause that condensation to freeze. Eventually, the ice builds up to a point where the air conditioner can no longer run.
A similar problem can be caused if you have obstructed the air flow to your home by closing off the vents. Preventing air flow from entering certain rooms may seem like a good way of saving on your cooling costs. However, closing too many vents can also lead to buildup of chilly air in the unit and become a precursor to system freezing.
Be certain that all air returns and vents are open and unobstructed by furniture. This, in combination with routinely changing the air filter, can help to prevent your air conditioner from freezing during the summer.
Over time, your air conditioner may develop a slow leak of the refrigerant. When this happens, it means that the refrigerant solution remaining requires a much lower temperature in order to cool down the air for your home. Unfortunately, the system doesn’t always adjust to this lower temperature which sometimes leads to freezing.
When the temperature of the coils drops like this, the moisture in the air conditioner turns to ice much more rapidly. Similar to low air flow, you will quickly be able to see the ice buildup that is causing your system to turn off.
When this issue takes place, you may also notice frozen water in the drain pan at the bottom of the unit. The fans can’t move effectively and the entire unit becomes stuck until the ice melts.
The best thing you can do is turn off the unit entirely and wait for the ice to melt. Unfortunately, this isn’t a problem that can be remedied by homeowners on their own. A qualified HVAC repair person will need to inspect the unit to see if the ice is caused by low refrigerant.
If it is, they can add more and repair the leak to prevent the issue from occurring again in the future. Ensure that your repairperson is adequately fixing the leak instead of just adding more refrigerant. Without this essential repair, you will be faced with the same issue in the weeks or months ahead.
Depending on how old your unit is, this sign may be an indicator that your air conditioner is nearing the end of its lifespan. Talk with your repairperson about whether or not you should consider replacing the entire unit instead of repairing the leak.
The blower inside of the air conditioner is responsible for pushing new air over the evaporator coils while it runs. Return air can help to warm up the evaporator coils over an extended period of time, preventing the condensation found there from turning to ice. If the motor of the blower isn’t functioning properly, it won’t continue to blow the return air and prevent ice formation on the coils.
This is another issue that isn’t easily remedied, even for handy homeowners. If the motor inside of your air conditioner is malfunctioning, it may need professional attention to repair it. In more severe instances, it may even need replacing altogether.
Don’t attempt to disassemble your air conditioner to fix the motor on your own. By doing so, you may inadvertently cause more issues with your unit and create further damage.
These three reasons are some of the most common reasons for a frozen air conditioner during the summertime. Some of the concerns can easily be addressed by homeowners with routine maintenance while others need to be repaired by a qualified HVAC technician.
Of course, during colder months, you may find ice on your unit as a byproduct of winter storms. This ice shouldn’t be a huge concern unless the unit starts to run improperly during an unseasonably warm day or has issues when summertime rolls around again.
If you find ice building up on the inside of your air conditioner, be sure to turn it off right away and allow it to thaw. During this time, you can contact a local HVAC company to come out and determine the cause of the freezing. Professionals recommend allowing nature to run its course because excess heat from blow dryers and clearing off ice by hand can cause more damage to the unit.
An icy air condition during the summertime is a clear indicator of some problem with your HVAC system, whether the problem lies within your home or within the air conditioner itself. If you’re in doubt about what could be causing the issues you’re experiencing, contact Classic Air Conditioning and Heating to have a look today.