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HVAC Tips

Ice on Air Conditioner

If you’ve just found your air conditioner covered in ice, the system needs to be turned off. Many people try to continue running the system in hopes to get some cool air. This is counter-intuitive. By continuing to run the frozen system, you’re just creating more ice on the unit. If a technician gets there and the unit is still frozen, there’s literally nothing he can do. The system must be ice-free in order to properly diagnose and locate any refrigerant leaks you may be having.  Luckily, you can run the fan in the on position to thaw the unit out and get air flowing through your home. 

What could the problem be? 

possible cause of ice on air condtioner

There are two main issues usually leading up to a frozen air conditioner. The first one, is a clogged air filter. After you’ve turned your system off, go ahead and check your filter. If you do find that it’s clogged/dirty, remove the clogged filter and replace it with a fresh one. Once your system is completely free of ice, turn the unit back on. During the next 48 hours, check the system various times through the day. If it doesn’t ice back up, congratulations! You’ve solved your issues with minimal cost and time.

What if it’s not a clogged filter?

After you’ve completed the steps above, if you find that the system freezes up again, it’s likely a refrigerant leak. Unfortunately, this isn’t something you’ll be able to repair yourself. Freon is highly regulated and can only be obtained by a licensed HVAC contractor.

possible cause of ice on air conditioner

During the visit, they’ll likely perform a leak search. The leak may or may not be repairable. In some cases, you may get away with just replacing a valve, but in other more extreme cases, you may have to replace the entire coil.  

It’s important to make sure you change your air filter out regularly. When air tries to pass through a clogged air filter, the air will still find it’s way around the filter somewhere. This causes the system to work harder to push less air through the system. With it, comes dirt and debris that the filter should have been catching. All of that gunk is now building up in the moving parts of your system. This is where many of the issues arise. At some point, different components such as the motor may fail. Moral of the story? Change out those air filters regularly!  

Another possibility. 

possible cause of ice on air conditioner

You may have dirty coils. This can usually be rectified with a chemical wash. Depending on the location of your unit, this may be something that has to be done fairly regularly. The refrigerant can’t easily pass through a dirty coil, which is why it freezes up.

Be sure to keep your coil free of things like mulch, grass clippings, yard debris etc. You can gently hose your coil off without damaging it.

How to Prevent an Icy Unit

Having regular tune-ups performed on your system by a certified HVAC technician can help to decrease your risk of ending up with a frozen system. During these visits, in many cases, the technician will locate small issues before they become large issues.   

We have AccuCare Plans that get you two tune-ups per year. One for your cooling system. One for your heating system. In addition to that, you get all sorts of great discounts on repairs and other services we provide. If you aren’t ready for that type of commitment, we also offer one time tune-ups.

Learn more about our AccuCare Plans.