Southern Californians know one thing about our climate: it can get anywhere from blistering hot to downright brutal during the summer months. The miles and miles of concrete and asphalt mean our cities and neighborhoods can be extremely toasty during several months out of the year, and that means you need an air conditioner that’s both long-lasting and effective. However, air conditioners can experience problems, and many homeowners react with shock or surprise when they find out their system has frozen over.
This is completely understandable: how on earth could an air conditioner freeze over when it’s over 100 degrees outside? Not only is it possible, but it’s actually more likely than you think. In this blog, we’ll discuss four things you need to know about this air conditioning issue and how you can both fix and prevent it from returning.
#1: The Hotter It Is, The More Likely Your AC Is to Freeze
The whole idea of your air conditioner being able to freeze while it’s blistering hot outside seems preposterous to some, but it’s unfortunately the truth. And in fact, it’s perfectly true that the hotter it is, the more likely your air conditioner is to freeze. When it’s hot outside, you have to run your air conditioner more. More heat invades your home, and thus that means your air conditioner has to work harder to keep it at a lower and more comfortable temperature. That means more cycles, and a greater chance of your air conditioner icing over should the conditions be right. So while it might seem counter-intuitive, it’s important to make sure your air conditioner is in good condition and prepped for those blistering hot summer days.
#2: The Leading Cause of Frozen Air Conditioners is a Dirty Air Filter
Believe it or not, the overwhelming majority of frozen air conditioners can be connected back to one simple cause: a dirty air filter. Your air filter is usually located over either the return vent register or covering the return duct inside your HVAC closet. It’s important to replace this filter when you need to for the purposes of better air quality, but also to replace it to make sure your air conditioner is in good condition.
See, when your blower fan is pulling dust and debris through your HVAC filter, this dust and debris provide a surface that water vapor can stick to and freeze on. As it freezes, it slowly begins to freeze other vapor through the process known as condensation. This results in ice forming on your indoor coil, and this ice slows the rate at which air can flow through your system. This means reduced efficiency, and a coil that “snowballs” until it’s a frozen block of ice. If you want your air conditioner to run reliably, change your air filter on-time.
#3: Don’t Try to Run a Frozen Air Conditioner
When people discover their air conditioner is frozen, they may be tempted to simply try to run their system anyway. Some older systems that don’t have ice detection capabilities will still allow this, but we implore you not to do so. As ice accumulates on your air conditioner’s indoor cooling coil, the amount of air that can flow over it will decrease. Likewise, the vapor in that air will condense and freeze on the ice-cold coil, as we discussed previously. That will lead to more ice until eventually the entire system is blocked. A blocked air conditioner will waste energy, stress and damage your blower fan, and could even damage your coil and both your indoor and outdoor units as well.
Shut your system down until the coil defrosts completely and then turn it back on again. You’ll be far better off than paying for what could otherwise be tremendously expensive repairs.
#4: You Can Defrost a Frozen AC to Get It Running Again
A frozen air conditioner can be defrosted to get up and running again even faster. If you can get access to your condenser coil, use a hairdryer or other source of gentle heat to slowly melt the ice off of your coil. Be careful not to use anything that’s too hot or an open flame—electrical components could be damaged by too much heat, and you don’t want to accidentally cause a fire. Once your coil has been defrosted, wipe it dry using a rag or cloth before turning your air conditioner on again.
If your air conditioner has stopped working or deals with frequent freezing problems, call Moe Plumbing at (818) 396-8002 and let our experts deal with the issue for you.