How to Fix a Frozen Air Conditioner 

Summer’s coming (we promise) and here’s a common scenario with the average homeowner: They’re sitting in their house, minding their own business, happily indulging a bowl of popcorn and watching Netflix, when they notice that terrible sound; drip… drip… drip. They turn their head to see the dog licking at a puddle that’s slowly forming on the dining room floor. Just like that, the mood changes: Concern, stress, and that ”oh brother!” feeling. Where did the leak come from?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? Not necessarily – the air conditioning equipment may be frozen. This can strike anywhere, from Philadelphia to Timbuktu, regardless of climate.

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 Philadelphia area home. There are two primary reasons the evaporator coil may freeze:

    1. The restriction of the system’s airflow
    1. Low refrigerant

Either way, the outcome is that the air conditioner’s evaporator coil does not properly disperse the heat, and consequently ‘overcools’ itself. The result 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 Can You Do When Your A/C Freezes?

    • Turn the A/C completely off at the thermostat, and do not increase the thermostat temperature as a way to melt the frost on the coils. Just make sure the A/C system is completely OFF.
    • Do what you can to ensure airflow is not restricted. Replace the furnace or air handler’s filter and replace any return air filters. Open all the registers completely and verify that they are not blocked by furniture or curtains.

What Does it Cost to Repair?

This can lead to a pricey repair. When your unit ices over it can lead to a compressor replacement. Replacing your compressor could cost as much as a downpayment on a new system. Actually, many homeowners are forced to pick between installing a new system vs repairing the old unit. If you move fast, follow the instructions, and call a ACE-certified technician, you stand a better chance of getting a less expensive job.

Your technician will quickly analyze the problem 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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