How to Fix a Frozen Air Conditioner

February 23, 2015

Summer’s coming (believe it or not) and here's a common scenario with the average homeowner: They’re sitting in their house, minding their own business, having a bowl of popcorn and watching their favorite TV show, when suddenly he/she hears awful sound; drip... drip... drip. They turn their head to see the cat licking at a puddle that's slowly forming on the dining room floor. Suddenly: Concern, stress, and that ”oh brother!” feeling. How did the leak start?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? Not necessarily – the air conditioning equipment may be frozen. This can occur anywhere, from Boise to Timbuktu, 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 Boise area home. The two main reasons why the evaporator coil may freeze:

  1. Restricted air flow
  2. Low refrigerant

Either way, the outcome is that the air conditioner's evaporator coil will be unable to properly transfer heat, and in essence '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. In other words, the A/C has morphed into an old-school icebox.

What Might You Do When Your A/C Freezes?

  1. Turn the unit 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. 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 obstructed by furniture or curtains.
  3. Call TML Service Experts. 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 turn into a pricey 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 brand new air conditioner. In fact, many homeowners are forced to pick between installing a new system or repairing the old unit. If you act quickly and call a NATE-certified technician, you stand a better chance of having a less expensive repair.

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