The temperature outside is rising, and inside is feeling just as bad. But when you go the check on your air handler it’s… frozen? How can that be? It’s so warm outside!
Many homeowners are left scratching their heads when dealing with a frozen air handler. How can it be boiling outside, but the air handler looks like it’s taken a trip to the Arctic? It may surprise you too, but this is a very common AC dilemma. Learn how to deal with your icebox of an air handler, and how to stop it from freezing in the future.
When your AC freezes up during the summer, conditions can heat up quickly inside your home. When you realize that your air conditioner is frozen, the first thing you need to do is turn it off and allow time for the ice to melt. If temperatures are severe, make sure that your family is in a cool environment as you wait.
An AC that freezes up is a common problem that can leave your AC unit in a block of ice and you scratching your head. Although freeze-ups are a common issue amongst air conditioners, it is concerning because it could mean your system is experiencing other issues.
Signs Your Air Handler is Freezing Up
You may be able to tell that your air handler is frozen without even looking at it. Some of the common symptoms of a frozen air handler include:
- AC suddenly stops working, or is working poorly
- Lack of airflow from vents
- Wet air filter
- System will not switch off on its own
- Warmer indoor temperatures
Any of these issues may be a result of a frozen air handler. If you believe that your home may be suffering from a frozen AC, it’s time to turn off your system and investigate. It may be one of the following common problems.
5 Reasons Your AC Is Freezing Up
There are several issues that can cause your AC to freeze up. Understanding these issues can help you to diagnose and fix the problem on your own.
Here are some of the potential culprits that may be making your AC freeze and what you should do about it.
1. Frozen Evaporator Coils
An air conditioner’s evaporator coil plays a big role in making sure your home is cool and comfortable. However, the temperature of an evaporator coil can dip below freezing if something causes the airflow to be restricted. This coupled with humidity is a recipe for ice build-up and lessened cooling capacity. You can tell if your evaporator coil is frozen if there is any ice build-up, excessive condensation drainage, or foaming. Restricted airflow can be caused by a variety of other issues such as a dirty air filter, a blocked air duct, or a malfunctioning fan.
2. Restricted Airflow
If airflow is restricted, this too may cause an icy air handler. When there is poor airflow, the coils in the air handler become too cold, causing the ice. There are many possible causes of poor airflow. Some of the most common include:
- Dirty air filter
- Closed or blocked vents
- Inadequate return air duct size
- Dirty air ducts
Any of these culprits may be blocking your home’s air flow and causing icy vents.
When the air moving through your evaporator coils is restricted, the temperature of the coils drops. The refrigerant in your system expands in these coils, becoming icy cold. This cools the air passing through, leading to delivery of conditioned air throughout the home. If air can’t move through the coils, the heat exchange won’t occur. Meanwhile, moisture condenses from the air in this part of the system. If the temperature of the coils is too low, the condensate freezes before it can drain out of your home. Some common causes of restricted airflow that contribute to frozen coils include:
- Dirty filter: a clogged air filter can prevent air from moving through the system; check your filter while your coils defrost, making a replacement if necessary
- Dirty coils: dirt that moves through the filter can accumulate on your coils, restricting airflow; a tune-up includes coil cleaning and several other maintenance checks to ensure optimum AC operation
- Dirty or broken blower parts: the blower moves the air through your ducts, and anything that keeps the blower from moving air can lead to frozen coils
- Obstructions in intake or return ducts: obstructions can also inhibit the movement of air and lead to icy coils that freeze up
3. Refrigerant Leak
Low refrigerant levels can create conditions that cause your AC to freeze up. It’s important to have your levels checked annually to ensure that you don’t have a leak in your refrigerant lines. A blockage or restriction in these lines can also lead to a frozen evaporator coil.
Weak solder joints, piping rubbing friction, or simply loose fitting valves, can cause refrigerant leaks. When refrigerant levels become too low due to a leak, the coils cool unevenly. This causes some parts of the coils to become extremely cold for long periods of time, eventually freezing up.
4. Cycling Problems
The failure of contractors or electronic components can lead to a continued function of part, but not all, of the system. If the blower shuts off but the refrigerant continues to move through the coils, there can be freezing of the system.
5. Cold Temperatures
If the temperature does dip below freezing, outdoor AC units don’t function as efficiently when they are exposed to temperatures below 60 degrees which means a cold front could cause your air conditioner to freeze.
How to Prevent AC From Freezing Up
An HVAC company provides comprehensive cooling services and can help with an emergency AC repair. We also offer tune-up services to ensure that your system is optimized before summer’s heat gets extreme. Call us if your cooling system needs professional attention. An HVAC company can inspect your unit to ensure that it is operating at optimum efficiency.
What Should I Do If My AC is Frozen?
If you suspect your air conditioning unit is experiencing a freeze-up, you should take action as soon as possible so other issues don’t arise. The first thing you should do is shut the entire system off and allow it to defrost. If you are comfortable checking your AC system yourself, look for any visible blocks and try changing the air filter.
If these solutions don’t work, call a local HVAC company for a proper diagnostic test. Air conditioning systems are intricate appliances, so every now and then they will experience issues such as freezing up.