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 sitting in their house, minding their own business, enjoying a bowl of popcorn and watching a movie, when all of a sudden – that distant terrible sound; drip... drip... drip. They look over to see the cat licking at a puddle that's slowly forming on the dining room floor. Suddenly: Concern, stress, and that “how much will this cost?” feeling. How did the leak start?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? Not necessarily – the central air conditioner is frozen solid. This can happen anywhere, from La Porte to Timbuktu, 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 La Porte area home. Usually there are two factors why the evaporator coil may freeze:

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

Either way, the ending effect is that the air conditioner's evaporator coil cannot operate to properly disperse the heat, and in essence 'overcools' itself. The result 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 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 don’t try to thaw the system by increasing the temperature at the thermostat. It is important that 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 as well as any return air filters. Open all the registers completely and verify that they are not blocked by furniture or drapery.
  3. Call Finch Air Conditioning & Heating. 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 become an expensive repair. When your air conditioner freezes over it can lead to a compressor replacement. Replacing your compressor could cost as much as a downpayment on a new system. Unfortunately, many homeowners are forced to pick between installing a new system or repairing the old one. If you follow the steps above and quickly call a NATE-certified technician, you have better odds of getting a less expensive repair.

Your technician will quickly analyze the problem and how to avoid the issue from repeating in the future. 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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