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What to Do When Your AC Unit Freezes

Posted on May 9, 2017

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Now that it’s spring here in the Triangle area, many people are starting to turn on their home’s air conditioner for the first time in the year. As we get closer to those scorching hot North Carolina summers, it’s important to have a well-working AC you can rely on.

One of the most common problems people experience with their AC units is ice buildup that can eventually freeze up the system altogether. Make no mistake, if you see any signs of frost or ice buildup on your air conditioner, it’s a clear sign there’s something wrong. If left unfixed, your AC could stop cooling effectively or quit completely. It could also potentially cause permanent damage to your equipment.

Do you have a frozen AC? Are you starting to see frost or ice build up on your system? Do you know what to do when your AC unit freezes? You don’t have to sweat it! Most times, a frozen air conditioner can be fixed with the right procedure and a bit of patience. You may need to call in a professional, and if that’s the case, the team at Air Works is here to serve all your AC repair needs.

Here are our recommendations for fixing your frozen AC. Read on below to learn more about what to do when your AC unit freezes.

Check Your AC Regularly for Signs of Freezing

The first step to fixing your frozen air conditioner is to catch the problem in the first place. As with any mechanical system, the earlier you see a problem and take action, the better. Noticing signs of ice or frost could help you prevent bigger, more expensive problems in the future.

The first step is to understand the anatomy of your home’s air conditioner. Most homes in our area have what’s known as “central air conditioning”. That means you have one system that blows cold air through vents in all rooms of your house.

To check a central AC system for frost or ice buildup, you’ll need to look a the outdoor unit, which houses the AC compressor, fan, and radiator (usually called the condenser coil). Your AC’s outdoor condensing unit will generally look like a large fan blowing into a metal box with lots of vents on the side.

To check your condensing unit for signs of frost or ice, there are a few places to look. First, check the condenser coil. You may need to look in the condenser unit through the side vents or through the fan opening.

Next, you should look at the small pipelines running between your condenser unit and your home. These are the coolant lines that carry the hyper-chilled coolant inside to the blower unit that uses it to chill the air in your home and push it through your ducts and vents. While these coolant lines do carry cold liquid, they should never get frosty or icy.

Certain parts of your inside AC equipment, especially within the blower unit, could also freeze up, so be sure to take a look at those pieces regularly as well. The bottom line: if you see ice on any part of your AC equipment, take action right away.

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Shut it Down Immediately if You See Frost or Ice

The first thing you should do if your AC system is freezing is turn it off. This will help make sure the problem doesn’t get worse. We recommend thawing your system, if possible, using hot water or simply waiting long enough for the ice to melt on its own. Another option is to adjust your thermostat to turn the system “off” with the fan set to “on”, which will help your system defrost itself.

Check Your HVAC’s Air Filter

One of the simplest and most common reasons why AC systems freeze up is an airflow problem. The first thing you should do after thawing your air conditioner to let it that is to check your inside air filter. These are generally located near or next to your blower unit and should be changed every 90 days or every 30-60 days if you have pets or severe allergies.

If left unchanged, your air filter could clog with dust, pet hair, and other debris that could restrict airflow enough to cause frost or freezing. Other airflow issues could be caused by obstructed ducts, malfunctioning blower motors, dirty coils, and more.

Refrigerant Issues

If your system doesn’t have an airflow problem, it could be an issue of refrigerant leaking or having insufficient amounts of refrigerant. This could cause a pressure drop in your evaporator coil in your outdoor condenser unit. If you have a refrigerant issue, the expert HVAC professionals at Air Works Heating & Air can fix it easily and reliably.

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Check the Overnight Temperature

One final potential cause for AC unit freezing is that the operating temperature could be too low. This means if you’re running your air conditioner overnight and the temperature dips below 60℉, you could get a freeze-up. Just be aware of your local weather forecast and try not to run your AC when it gets cooler at night.

Still Freezing? Call in the HVAC Professionals!

If your AC system is continuing to freeze even after you’ve thawed it and checked your airflow, you best move is to call Air Works Heating & Air. Our experienced AC specialists can respond quickly to inspect your equipment, isolate your problem, and repair it and keep you cool this summer.

Remember, the best time to service your air conditioner is early in the spring before our truly hot weather arrives. Many people procrastinate and don’t notice AC problems until the middle of the summer, so we tend to get very busy when it’s hottest outside. Don’t delay! Make sure you do a springtime test of your air conditioner, watch for all the signs of frosting or icing, and confirm you’re blowing cold air as expected. That way, if you find a problem, the Air Works team will be ready to handle everything more quickly, and you’ll sweat it less.

Call us today at (919) 528-4333 or contact us to speak to our team and tell us about your AC issues. We’re standing by to serve you!

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