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, happily indulging a bowl of popcorn and watching their favorite TV show, when they notice that dreadful sound; drip... drip... drip. They glance over to see the dog licking at a puddle that's slowly forming on the dining room floor. In a flash: Anxiety, stress, and that “how much will this cost?” feeling. What caused the leak?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? Nope – the central air conditioner is frozen solid. This can strike anywhere, from Birmingham to Thailand, 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 Birmingham area home. The two main reasons why the evaporator coil may freeze:

  1. Airflow restriction
  2. Insufficient refrigerant

Either way, the result is that the air conditioner's evaporator coil does not properly disperse the heat, and in effect '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 just turned 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 don’t try to thaw the system by increasing the temperature at 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 impeded by furniture or curtains.
  3. Call Norrell 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 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 choose between installing a new system and repairing the damaged model. If you act quickly and call a NATE-certified technician, you have better odds of getting a less expensive job.

Your technician will quickly analyze the problem and how to avoid the issue from repeating in the future. If a leak is present (and that is rare, but possible), the leak has to be repaired or the unit will likely freeze again.
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