How to Fix a Frozen Air Conditioner

February 23, 2015

Summer’s coming (we promise) and here's an often cited scenario with the average homeowner: They’re relaxing in their living room, minding their own business, having a bowl of popcorn and watching Netflix, when suddenly he/she hears terrible sound; drip... drip... drip. They glance over to see the cat licking at a puddle that's gradually forming on the dining room floor. Suddenly: Anxiety, stress, and that sinking feeling. How did the leak start?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? Nope – it's the air conditioner of all things. This can happen anywhere, from San Antonio to Thailand, regardless of weather.

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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 San Antonio area home. The two main reasons why the evaporator coil may freeze:

  1. Airflow restriction
  2. Insufficient refrigerant

Either way, the ending effect is that the air conditioner's evaporator coil does not properly transfer heat, and in effect 'overcools' itself. The net effect 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. Yep, the A/C just turned into an old-school icebox.

What Can You Do When Your A/C Freezes?

  1. Turn the system completely off at the thermostat, and do not just move up the temperature on the thermostat. Ensure the A/C system is completely OFF.
  2. Confirm that there is nothing restricting the airflow to the system. Replace the furnace or air handler's filter as well as any return air filters. Open all the registers completely and ensure that they are not blocked by furniture or curtains.
  3. Call Aramendia Plumbing, Heating and Air. 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 turn into a pricey repair. When your AC ices over it can lead to a totaled compressor. Replacing your compressor can cost as much as a downpayment on a high efficiency model. Actually, many homeowners are forced to pick between installing a new system vs repairing the damaged model. If you follow the steps above and quickly call a NATE-certified technician, you stand a better chance of getting a less expensive job.

Your technician will advise you of the exact cause and how to avoid the issue from repeating in the future. If a leak is present (and that is rare, but possible), the leak has to be repaired or the unit will probably freeze again.
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