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How To Remedy A Frozen AC

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The air conditioning system is responsible for keeping your home cool. It’s one of the hardworking systems that ensures comfort all year round. Sadly, there are instances when it malfunctions, and it can make you experience a frozen air conditioning (AC) unit. The issue can leave your home uncomfortable, especially during the warm months. It can happen to many homeowners almost yearly. If it’s the first time you have encountered this, you might need the help of a professional or equip yourself with the basics of troubleshooting a frozen AC. 

Male technician repairs, cleans or installs air conditioner hanging on wall inside house.

Indications And Causes Of A Frozen AC 

If you have a frozen AC, there are several indications to watch out for. Before you head out to inspect your cooling system’s outdoor unit, some telltale signs are: 

  • If you notice an unstable temperature on the thermostat
  • If your home is no longer cool as before
  • If the air moving out of the supply registers is warm or weak.   

There are several reasons for your air conditioning unit to become frozen. Some of the usual causes include: 

  • Refrigerant leakage from the evaporator coils
  • The buildup of debris on the coils
  • Obstructed air filters
  • Clogged AC vents
  • Malfunction of the blower fan
  • Insufficient refrigerant levels  

Nowadays, current models of air conditioners have operating modes with a defrost control board. Generally, it monitors sensors that detect ice buildup on a unit. It activates the defrost mode if ice forms on the components. If it fails to work similarly to those used in a walk-in freezer, it’s best to consider a defrost control board troubleshooting.   


Measures To Remedy A Frozen AC 

If you have a frozen AC, it’s quite evident. Several components of the unit, such as the panels and coils, may be covered in ice. It’s a clear indication that the refrigerant has dropped below 32 degrees, leading to the freezing of your unit.   

Luckily, there are ways to manage the issue. Although a frozen AC can be due to various causes and might require professional repair services, here are some measures you can take.   

Thoroughly Evaluate The Vent Filters, Supply Vents, And Return Vents  

When you have a frozen AC, one of the first tasks you need to do is to inspect the vent filters. Carefully examine for any blockage that limits the free flow of air. If the filters are dirty, it may cause your air conditioning system to freeze. Once the filters appear discolored or contaminated, replace them with new ones and see if it resolves the issue.  

The supply vents are responsible for circulating cool air within your home. If one of them shuts, it restricts the air streaming through the unit, leading to issues with the heat exchange process. Due to this, make it a priority to ensure all vents in unoccupied rooms are open to allow the thawing of frozen coils. The same is also applicable to the return vents. Doing so will boost the stream of warm air over the evaporator coils. 


Examine The Fins And Coils Closely  

The fins and coils of your air conditioning unit require attention. Make sure to inspect if cleaning is necessary. If they’re filthy, use a soft brush to remove debris or dirt. You also need to check if the supply registers in your home are open. Any blockage to it can limit the airflow, affecting the evaporator temperature.  


Assess The Coolant Levels And Look For Any Leaks 

Once the coolant level is low, it can affect your AC unit’s pressure and cooling efficiency, resulting in freezing. You should have a coolant installation kit to check the refrigerant levels.   

Low levels of refrigerant can lead to a significant decline in the functionality of your air conditioning unit. However, it’s also a potential sign of leakage. Make it a priority to inspect for leakage immediately. It’s due to the possibility that prolonged exposure to freon can be harmful. While it may be easy to detect a refrigerant leak, the presence of a slow leak can be difficult to pinpoint. As the refrigerant levels continue to decline, it may be best to conduct a dye detection test to identify slow leakage.  

The test involves placing a small amount of fluorescent dye with the refrigerant. You have a leakage if you notice the bright color from the mixture of the fluorescent dye and refrigerant on the ground, making it easy to pinpoint. If leakage of the refrigerant is likely, call a professional.


Review The Ductwork For Any Issues  

Debris can bring about disruptions in the air flow, but it’s not the only cause of problems. If the ductwork collapses, it can bring about issues. If the ductwork doesn’t fit properly, it can obstruct the airflow, blocking the warm air that keeps your unit functional. Certain problems with the ductwork, such as small-sized holes or gaps, can be remedied with duct tape. However, if the damage you’re facing is extensive, hire a professional to do the necessary repairs.

Air repair mechanic using measuring pressure gauge is equipment

Investigate The Interior Components Of The AC Unit  

In some cases, the cause of a frozen AC may be a malfunctioning component. Consider checking the refrigerant lines, blower fan, or filter dryer to see if they’re still in good shape and operational. Any mechanical issues that develop on these components can cause your unit to malfunction at some point. If you’re unfamiliar with how these components work, consult a professional to conduct a thorough analysis and perform the necessary repairs.  


Restore The Power Supply  

Once you have taken several measures to thaw your frozen unit, conduct a test to check if it’s capable of cooling again. Switch the thermostat to the cool setting as you turn on the power. The system should be able to produce cool air. If the air is still warm or cycles for a long time without reaching the preferred thermostat setting, it may be a sign of damage to the unit or leakage of the refrigerant. Hiring a professional would be a suitable course of action in such cases.   


Final Thoughts  

A frozen AC unit can happen due to various causes. Luckily, routine maintenance will go a long way in preventing the issue from happening. Schedule professional tune-ups on heating and cooling systems as part of regular care. Doing so can significantly help minimize issues affecting your AC system’s functionality. In case you end up with one, several measures exist to manage the problem before hiring a professional.