So, finally summers are back again and Oh God it seems this year’s heat is going to be unbearable to say the very least. And even though air conditioners are a Science’s boon to humankind, they can sometimes break down at the worst of times.
For instance, if you have been finding chunks of ice sitting on your outdoor unit or it seems like the system isn’t working properly, then you are definitely dealing with a frozen air conditioner.
Air conditioner freezing could happen if there is a restricted airflow, the system is low in refrigerant levels, or there is a malfunctioning circuit inside the body.
To know more, keep on reading.
How do Air Conditioners work?
An air conditioning system has four major components- the evaporator coil, the compressor, condenser and the refrigerant. These four components are further categorised into three stations which work together closely to make and keep a room cool for long hours.
When the air conditioner is turned on, the machine sucks the warm indoor air through its vents and inner air filters, which is then blown over the evaporator coil. The coil then absorbs the heat and transfers into the cold refrigerant, turning the liquid into gas, before projecting the now cooler air back into the room.
Meanwhile, within the system, the warm refrigerant is pushed towards the compressor. Here the refrigerant is compressed even more that helps raise its gaseous temperature even more. This procedure aids faster absorption of the warmer air by the outside atmosphere.
Finally, upon reaching the condenser, the super hot gaseous refrigerant goes through heat absorption and expulsion, where although the refrigerant changes back into its previous liquid form, the heat is absorbed into the outside air. The cool refrigerant now makes its way back into the unit and gets ready for the process again.
So why is my Air Conditioner freezing up?
There can be a plethora of reasons as to why your AC unit has been freezing up lately. Some of these include:
- Clogged Air Filters
Like we previously discussed how warm air passes through inner air filters, a clogged air filter might be the reason why your AC unit is freezing up. Given the accumulation of dirt and grease, the unit may be facing issues when trying to suck in the warm indoor air or even delivering the cooler air from inside the unit.
Thus, in return the cold refrigerant just keeps on passing from one station to another without actually getting to do any of its work. This leads to complete cooling of the unit, leading to formation of chunks of ice within and outside the system.
SOLUTION- If the air filters are the cause, you could call in an AC technician to help with the cleaning. They will efficiently remove any debris that might have stuck to the layers, or else change the set with a new one.
- Faulty Blower Fan
Secondly, a damaged or a faulty blower fan may also be the cause behind the unit freezing up. When warm air is sucked in, the air is blown onto the evaporator coil evenly through these fans. But, in case they are damaged, automatically there is a low inflow of warm air, causing the evaporator coil to eventually stop working. This causes the refrigerant to get stuck within the unit and every time the AC is turned on, the units start freezing from inside.
SOLUTION- Now this is a technical job which should only be handled by qualified and experienced AC service specialists. Fooling around with the connection will not only make your warranty void but also lead to short-circuits and even fire mishaps.
- Jammed Drain line
The evaporator coils are attached with a drain line that gets rid of moisture and water droplets from the absorbed indoor warm air. These drain lines can however get clogged up with dirt and debris when kept uncleaned for long. So, as the water droplets are unable to go out, they get mixed with the cold refrigerant or worse stick to the evaporator coil, leading to the air conditioner getting frozen.
SOLUTION- Regular cleaning of the drainage line is a must to prevent such issues. You could also call up your technician to lend their assistance or if required attach a new drainage pipe.
- Collapsed Air Ducts
Given that the whole working of the air conditioners is dependent upon the proper inflow and outflow of air, congested or collapsed air ducts may also be the culprit. There is no transfer of air from one station to another, and hence the unit just keeps on processing the cold refrigerant, gradually freezing the insides. A collapsed air duct, if left untreated, could cause severe damage to the whole unit which could lead to heavy expenses in the future.
SOLUTION- The only solution here will be to get new air ducts through the right servicing company.
- Dirty Evaporator Coil
Just like every other essential component, if dirt accumulates on top of the evaporator coils, the AC will not work properly. Due to the restricted airflow, the coil won’t be able to pass down the heat into the cold refrigerant, nor help with the backflow of cold air into the room. Slowly this will cause the air conditioner to freeze up without letting much of the cooler air outside.
Many people forget that even home air consists of a great amount of microscopic dust and debris. This although is filtered through the AC air filters, a small amount may still pass on to the insides, jamming up the coils and pretty much anything it comes in contact with.
SOLUTION- A dirty evaporator coil will need professional cleaning, as home methods may not work into the deeper areas.
- Refrigerant Leak
One of the most important joining links of the whole air conditioning unit, an improper maintenance of your unit may also cause the refrigerant to leak out. Air conditioners come with a pre-filled refrigerant level which needs occasional check-up and refilling based upon the air conditioner manufacturer. This is generally covered in your AC unit service schedules, but sometimes an external trauma or a faulty refrigerant holder may cause the leak.
SOLUTION- The technician will give your air conditioner a complete check and if possible, change the refrigerant holder with a new one.
- The outside temperature is extremely low
Finally, in extremely colder regions, your air conditioner might be freezing up just because of the low temperature outside. When the air outside is cooler than the room’s inside, it may cause moisture to seep into the air ducts or drainage pipe, blocking the flow of the air conditioner’s refrigerant normal pathway. This takes one thing from another, and lastly you end up with a frozen air conditioner that doesn’t work well.
SOLUTION- Always be mindful of the outside unit of the air conditioner if living in such areas. When not in use, you can cover them with a waterproof or snow proof cloth to minimise the damages.
Is there anything I can do on my own if my AC is freezing up?
Well, the first step here will be to switch off the AC from the main power supply and keep it disconnected until the ice starts melting. It may take one to two days, depending upon the buildup of ice to completely melt away. And during this time, it is better to keep them turned off as you don’t want to accumulate more ice or risk a short-circuit.
Next, once all the ice has defrosted, take a clean paper towel and wipe dry the evaporator coil and any other wires that may have come in contact with the moisture. Let it get all dried up on its own or spread the parts out under the sun for a reasonable amount of time before fitting them back together.
Ultimately, turn on the AC and see if the problem is resolved. However, if you are terrified to experiment on these electrical items, you can always call in a professional AC technician to help find and treat the underlying cause.