How to Fix a Frozen Air Conditioner

February 23, 2015

Summer’s coming (we promise) and here's a common scenario with the average homeowner: They’re at home, minding their own business, enjoying a bowl of popcorn and watching Netflix, when they notice that dreadful sound; drip... drip... drip. They turn their head to see the dog licking at a puddle that's gradually forming on the kitchen floor. In a flash: Worry, stress, and that ”oh brother!” feeling. Where did the leak come from?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? No – the central air conditioner is frozen solid. This can strike anywhere, from Roanoke to Timbuktu, regardless of summer heat.

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Why Air Conditioners Freeze

When a central air conditioner freezes up, what actually freezes is the condenser unit's evaporator coil. This component of the air conditioner transfers (evaporates) heat from the inside to the outside of your Roanoke area home. Usually there are two factors why the evaporator coil may freeze:

  1. Restricted air flow
  2. Lack of sufficient refrigerant

Either way, the outcome is that the air conditioner's evaporator coil will be unable to properly transfer heat, and in effect 'overcools' itself. The net effect of this super-cooling is condensation (that's water formation), and eventually ice forms from that condensation as it cools below the freezing point. In short, the A/C has morphed into an old-school icebox.

What Might You Do When Your A/C Freezes?

  1. Turn the system 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. Check to ensure that the airflow around your system is unrestricted. Replace the furnace or air handler's filter and replace any return air filters. Open all the registers completely and confirm that they are not obstructed by furniture or curtains.
  3. Call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. The air conditioning system needs to be serviced by a professional that is NATE-certified 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 an expensive repair. When your unit freezes over it can lead to a compressor replacement. Replacing your compressor could cost as much as a downpayment on a high efficiency model. Unfortunately, many homeowners are forced to decide between installing a new system or repairing the damaged one. If you move fast, follow the instructions, and call a NATE-certified technician, you have better odds of getting a less expensive job.

Your technician will quickly analyze the problem and how to avoid the issue from repeating in the future. If a leak exists (and that is rare, but possible), the leak has to be repaired or the unit will probably freeze again.
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