A frozen air conditioner can throw a wrench in your plans to stay cool on a hot summer day. Not only will you have to deal with a warm, muggy home until help arrives, but repairs can also be pricey. Luckily, you can act quickly to prevent the damage from spreading so long as you know what to do at the first sign of a frozen AC.
What Causes an HVAC System to Freeze?
When an air conditioner freezes up, the culprit is almost always the evaporator coil. This component is filled with refrigerant that pulls heat from the indoors and transfers it outside. If you’ve ever waved your hand over the AC fan while it’s running and felt a rush of hot air, that’s why. It’s this constant movement of warm air that prevents the refrigerant in the coils from dropping to a dangerously low temperature. If something disrupts the flow of warm air, the coils can freeze up and prevent the system from making cool air.
Turn Off Your AC
As soon as you realize your air conditioner is frozen, you need to turn off the cooling setting This limits the amount of damage that can take place before the underlying issue is repaired. The goal of moving quickly is to prevent frozen refrigerant from entering the compressor. Compressors are designed to handle warm vapor, so coming into contact with frozen refrigerant can seriously damage or even destroy the unit. Compressor replacements are extremely costly, so it’s best to avoid this scenario if at all possible.
To turn off your air conditioner, locate the thermostat and switch the “cooling” toggle to “off.” Next, turn the fan toggle from “auto” to “on.” The fan circulates warm air through the unit and speeds up the defrosting process. Once those steps are completed, you’ll need to exercise patience and wait for the unit to completely thaw. Depending on how severe the frost is, this step can take up to a full day.
Replace the Air Filter
Dirty air filters limit the amount of airflow to your air conditioner. By preventing warm air from flowing between your home and the outdoor condenser unit, the coils can cool down and freeze. Clogged air filters also lose the ability to successfully trap dust and debris. This causes dust to instead accumulate within the condenser unit itself, coating internal components like the evaporator coil. A dirty evaporator coil can freeze up. For these reasons, we recommend changing the air filter while you wait for your AC to thaw.
Inspect the Vents
It’s also possible for airflow issues to originate at your indoor vents. Take a look at your vents – both floor vents and wall vents – to see if anything is blocking them. If they’re covered by anything like furniture, curtains or rugs, be sure to move those objects a safe distance away. We also recommend checking for closed vents. A closed vent cuts off the air supply and strains the HVAC system.
Schedule an AC Tune-up
Preventative maintenance is the key to avoiding frozen air conditioners in the first place. We recommend scheduling a tune-up in spring to get your AC ready for summer. During the tune-up, a technician will assess the system for signs of damage or disrepair. They’ll also check for blockages, dirty air filters, low refrigerant levels, and dysfunctional blower fans. If the technician notices anything amiss, they’ll have a chance to take corrective steps long before your air conditioner freezes. The solution may be as simple as cleaning grime off the evaporator coils or as involved as replacing a cracked refrigerant line.
Your AC Service Partner in Austin
While having a frozen air conditioner is stressful, it’s also avoidable with the right precautions. It’s essential to keep a regular maintenance schedule and request repairs as soon as you notice something isn’t right. The team at Totally Cool Heating & Air is the go-to source for reliable heating and cooling maintenance, repairs and replacements in Austin and the surrounding areas. We also provide a range of other home comfort solutions including air quality, attic insulation, solar window screens and duct sealing and replacement. No matter which service you need, you can always look forward to top-notch customer service from our certified technicians. Reach out today to schedule a service appointment with Totally Cool Heating & Air.