How to Fix a Frozen Air Conditioner

February 23, 2015

Summer’s coming (we promise) and here's a typical scenario with the average homeowner: They’re at home, 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 cat licking at a puddle that's steadily forming on the dining room floor. Suddenly: Anxiety, stress, and that sinking feeling. How did the leak start?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? Not necessarily – the central air conditioner is frozen solid. This can strike anywhere, from Memphis to Thailand, regardless of climate.

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

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

Either way, the ending effect 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 has morphed into an old-school icebox.

What Can You Do When Your A/C Freezes?

  1. Turn the A/C completely off at the thermostat, and don’t try to thaw the system by increasing the temperature at 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 impeded by furniture or curtains.
  3. Call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. The air conditioning system needs to be inspected by an ACE-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 turn into an expensive repair. When your AC ices over it can lead to damage to the compressor. Replacing your compressor could easily cost as much as a downpayment on a brand new air conditioner. Unfortunately, many homeowners are forced to pick between installing a new system or repairing the damaged one. 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 happening again. If a leak is present (and that is rare, but possible), the leak has to be repaired or the unit will most likely freeze again.
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