How to Fix a Frozen Air Conditioner

February 23, 2015

Summer’s coming (as hard as it is to believe right now) and here's a common scenario with the average homeowner: They’re relaxing in their living room, minding their own business, having a bowl of popcorn and watching a movie, when all of a sudden – that distant dreadful sound; drip... drip... drip. They turn their head to see the household pet licking at a puddle that's steadily forming on the kitchen floor. Suddenly: Worry, stress, and that sinking feeling. How did the leak start?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? No – the central air conditioner is frozen solid. This can happen anywhere, from Albany to Thailand, regardless of weather.

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Why Air Conditioners Freeze

The part of the air conditioner that actually freezes is known as the evaporator coil. This component of the air conditioner transfers (evaporates) heat from the inside to the outside of your Albany area home. Usually there are two factors why the evaporator coil may freeze:

  1. The restriction of the system’s airflow
  2. Lack of sufficient refrigerant

Either way, the result is that the air conditioner's evaporator coil does not properly dissipate heat, and in essence 'overcools' itself. The impact of this super-cooling is condensation (that's water formation), and over time 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 Might 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. Just make sure the A/C system is completely OFF.
  2. Do what you can to ensure airflow is not restricted. 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 drapery.
  3. Call D.A. Bennett 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 lead to a costly repair. When your air conditioner freezes over it can lead to a compressor replacement. Replacing your compressor can cost as much as a downpayment on a new system. In fact, many people are forced to decide between installing a new system and repairing the old model. 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 quickly analyze the problem and how to avoid the issue from happening again. If a leak was really the cause (and that is rare, but possible), the leak has to be repaired or the unit will likely freeze again.
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