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 sitting in their house, minding their own business, happily indulging a bowl of popcorn and watching their favorite TV show, 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 steadily forming on the kitchen floor. In a flash: Concern, stress, and that “how much will this cost?” feeling. What caused the leak?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? Nope – it's the air conditioner of all things. This can happen anywhere, from Austin to Africa, regardless of weather.

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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 Austin area home. Usually there are two factors why the evaporator coil may freeze:

  1. Airflow restriction
  2. Lack of sufficient refrigerant

Either way, the outcome is that the air conditioner's evaporator coil will be unable to properly disperse the heat, and in effect 'overcools' itself. The result 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. In short, the A/C has morphed 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 do not just move up the temperature on the thermostat. It is important that 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 drapery.
  3. Call Strand Brothers 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 turn into a costly repair. When your air conditioner freezes 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 one. If you follow the steps above and quickly call a NATE-certified technician, you have better odds of having a less expensive emergency.

Your technician will diagnose the situation and how to avoid the issue from happening again. If a leak was really the cause (and that is rare, but possible), the leak has to be repaired or the unit will probably freeze again.
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