How to Fix a Frozen Air Conditioner

February 23, 2015

Summer’s coming (we promise) and here's a common 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 suddenly he/she hears awful sound; drip... drip... drip. They glance over to see the cat licking at a puddle that's steadily forming on the bathroom floor. In a flash: Concern, stress, and that “how much will this cost?” feeling. How did the leak start?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? Not necessarily – the air conditioning equipment may be frozen. This can happen anywhere, from Grand Island to Thailand, regardless of weather.

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Why Air Conditioners Freeze

When a central air conditioner freezes up, what actually freezes is the condenser unit's evaporator coil. This component of the air conditioner transfers (evaporates) heat from the inside to the outside of your Grand Island area home. Usually there are two factors why the evaporator coil may freeze:

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

Either way, the result is that the air conditioner's evaporator coil cannot operate to properly transfer 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 transformed into an old-school icebox.

What Can 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. 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 ensure that they are not obstructed by furniture or curtains.
  3. Call McElroy 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 become a pricey repair. When your AC freezes over it can lead to a totaled compressor. Replacing your compressor could easily cost as much as a downpayment on a new system. In fact, many people are forced to choose between installing a new system vs repairing the old model. 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 quickly analyze the problem and how to avoid the issue from happening again. If a leak exists (and that is rare, but possible), the leak has to be repaired or the unit will likely freeze again.
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