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What Causes an Air Conditioner to Ice Up?

What Causes an Air Conditioner to Ice Up?

August 30th, 2021


When you live somewhere with as warm and humid as a climate as ours, it’s hard to imagine ever seeing ice anywhere, let alone developing on your air conditioner. Although perhaps you’re one of those people who think that ice is involved in the cooling process. After all, how else does chilled air make its way into your home, if ice isn’t involved?

Well, through refrigerant. You see, refrigerant is a substance that makes the whole cooling process possible. It cycles between liquid and gas form in order to remove heat from your home, and to return cooled air. This is oversimplifying it a bit, but the point is, refrigerant is what makes your air conditioner actually cool the air, not ice.

So what causes an air conditioner to ice up? We’ll elaborate below, but essentially, air conditioners ice up when the refrigerant inside gets too cold due to an external problem with the system. Read on to learn more!

Common Causes for Ice Development on Your Air Conditioner

There are several reasons your air conditioner can present with ice development, but each reason ties back to one particular cooling system component–the evaporator coil. Ice forms when the evaporator coil loses its ability to absorb heat, and therefore raise the temperature of the cold refrigerant moving through it. So the real question is, what causes your evaporator coil to lose this ability?

  • Low Refrigerant Charge: A refrigerant’s “charge” means how much refrigerant is in the system. Upon manufacturing, your air conditioner is supplied with enough refrigerant charge to ideally last the system’s entire lifespan. If you have a low refrigerant charge, it means there is a leak that needs to be located and repaired. It also means there won’t be enough refrigerant to absorb heat from air flowing over the evaporator coil, and therefore the coil can get too cold and lead to ice formation.
  • Dirt or Grime on the Evaporator Coil: If dust, dirt, or any other form of debris settles onto the evaporator coil, it creates a sort of insulating layer, which lowers the ability of the evaporator coil to absorb heat.
  • Clogged Air Filter: The air filter that comes standard with your HVAC system is in place to protect the interior components of that HVAC system from dust and debris. When it gets too clogged up though, airflow going into the system is restricted. If there’s not enough heat inside your home to absorb, this again means that the refrigerant could make the evaporator coil too cold, and it can freeze over.
  • Malfunctioning Blower Fan: If the blower fan in your AC isn’t pushing the right amount of warm air over the coil due to a malfunction, it can lead to ice development.

How to Fix a Frozen Over Air Conditioner

The best thing you can do to fix a frozen air conditioner is to call our team. Trying to thaw or remove it on your own can lead to more harm than good for the system, plus it doesn’t address the root of the problem. But we can help!

Why Air Conditioner Damage Wastes Energy

When an air conditioner runs longer than it should normally have to, which often happens when part of the process is interrupted–such as in the case of an iced-over evaporator coil–this means it’s using up more energy than it should normally have to. This means you’re not only wasting electricity, but wasting your hard-earned money too.

Whether you see ice forming on your air conditioner, or suspect your cooling system has some other repair need, the best thing you can do for the system, for your comfort, and for your wallet is to give our team a call.

To get in touch with a professional and reliable air conditioning company in Canton, GA, look no further than Dayco Systems. Contact us today!