How to Fix a Frozen Air Conditioner

February 23, 2015

Summer’s coming (believe it or not) and here's a typical scenario with the average homeowner: They’re relaxing in their living room, minding their own business, happily indulging a bowl of popcorn and watching Netflix, when they notice that terrible sound; drip... drip... drip. They glance over to see the household pet licking at a puddle that's gradually forming on the bathroom floor. Suddenly: Worry, stress, and that sinking feeling. How did the leak start?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? No – it's the air conditioner of all things. This can strike anywhere, from Charlotte to Thailand, 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 Charlotte area home. The two main reasons why the evaporator coil may freeze:

  1. Airflow restriction
  2. Insufficient refrigerant

Either way, the result is that the air conditioner's evaporator coil cannot operate to properly transfer heat, and in effect '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 other words, 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 just move up the temperature on the thermostat. Ensure 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 ensure 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 become a pricey repair. When your AC freezes over it can lead to a totaled compressor. Replacing your compressor could easily cost as much as a downpayment on a high efficiency model. Unfortunately, many homeowners are forced to choose between installing a new system vs repairing the damaged unit. If you move fast, follow the instructions, and call a NATE-certified technician, you stand a better chance of having a less expensive job.

Your technician will diagnose the situation and how to avoid the issue from happening again. If a leak is present (and that is rare, but possible), the leak has to be repaired or the unit will probably freeze again.
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