Why Is There Ice On My A/C?

by | Sep 1, 2016

Visually seeing ice on the air-conditioning unit is not a good sign. When there is ice, there is a problem. If you allow the air conditioning unit continue to run with ice on the coil, you are causing damage to the compressor, which is the most expensive element of the entire cooling system. You are also throwing away money by increasing your electric bill unnecessarily because the ice blocks the airflow of the cool air which keeps the house from being properly cool. If you notice that the unit is running but the airflow in the house is low then that is a sign that the ice has formed to a point that it requires immediate attention. There are various reasons why ice form on air conditioning units. By identifying the cause of the ice formation, you can determine if the problem can be remedied easily or if it is necessary to get a professional involved.

Ice could form on the air conditioning unit because of something as simple as the system having a low amount of refrigerant. Without a sufficient amount of refrigerants, the evaporator coil becomes too cold and ice begins to form. And HVAC technician can refill the system with the appropriate amount of refrigerants and fix any leaks that may have caused the problem.

Having a dirty filter is another cause of ice forming because the filter cuts down the flow of warm air from your home. When this happens, condensed water is frozen in the coil before it has a chance to drain away. Simply changing the filter will increase the airflow and allow the coil to operate at the correct temperature.

If the unit fans are malfunctioning, that can also contribute to the air-conditioner freezing. Check to make sure that the fans are spinning and that they are spinning at the correct speed. If they are moving too slow, a technician will have to service the unit and increase the speed of the fan in order for you to prevent ice from forming on the unit.

As the air conditioning unit operates, it creates vapors that converts into condensation. Normally this condensation drains out of the unit, but sometimes the condensate drain gets backed up by water that does it make its way out. As the condensation becomes frozen by the coil, the ice that is formed blocks the drain even more, making the situation much more serious. In some cases, the drainage issue can be corrected easily, while in other situations an HVAC technician is required since the drainage problem is the result of another issue that needs to be addressed.

Regardless of what the issue is, the first thing you should do when you see ice on the air conditioning unit is to turn it off. Make sure that any drainage accommodations are made to ensure the melted ice does not cause damage elsewhere. You can blow hot air on the ice in order to speed up the process of melting the ice or turn on the air conditioning fan while leaving the compressor off. Be sure to remove the draining water by opening up the ductwork and using a shop vacuum to suck it out. Also, empty the condensate pan. Once you have completed all of those steps you should be able to operate the air conditioning unit as normal, but it would be smart to keep a close eye on the unit and watch for ice to reform.

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