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 all of a sudden – that distant terrible sound; drip... drip... drip. They look over to see the dog licking at a puddle that's gradually forming on the dining room floor. Just like that, the mood changes: Worry, stress, and that sinking feeling. How did the leak start?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? Nope – the air conditioning equipment may be frozen. This can strike anywhere, from Louisville to Thailand, regardless of summer heat.

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Why Air Conditioners Freeze

The part of the air conditioner that actually freezes is known as the evaporator coil. This component of the air conditioner transfers (evaporates) heat from the inside to the outside of your Louisville area home. Usually there are two factors why the evaporator coil may freeze:

  1. Restricted air flow
  2. Low refrigerant

Either way, the result is that the air conditioner's evaporator coil cannot operate to properly transfer heat, and consequently 'overcools' itself. The net effect of this super-cooling is condensation (that's water formation), and finally ice forms from that condensation as it cools below the freezing point. Yep, the A/C transformed into an old-school icebox.

What Might 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. Just make sure 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 and replace any return air filters. Open all the registers completely and ensure that they are not obstructed by furniture or drapes.
  3. Call Becht/Givens Service Experts. The air conditioning system needs to be inspected by a NATE-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 become an expensive repair. When your AC ices over it can lead to damage to the compressor. Replacing your compressor could cost as much as a downpayment on a brand new air conditioner. In fact, many people are forced to decide between installing a new system and repairing the damaged model. If you follow the steps above and quickly call a NATE-certified technician, you have better odds of getting a less expensive emergency.

Your technician will diagnose the situation and how to avoid the issue from occurring 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 most likely freeze again.
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