How to Fix a Frozen Air Conditioner

February 23, 2015

Summer’s coming (we promise) and here's a common scenario with the average homeowner: They’re at home, minding their own business, having a bowl of popcorn and watching Netflix, when they notice that awful sound; drip... drip... drip. They turn their head to see the dog licking at a puddle that's gradually forming on the bathroom floor. Suddenly: Anxiety, stress, and that “how much will this cost?” feeling. Where did the leak come from?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? No – the air conditioning equipment may be frozen. This can happen anywhere, from the Niagara Region to Timbuktu, regardless of weather.

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Why Air Conditioners Freeze

When a central air conditioner freezes up, what actually freezes is the condenser unit's evaporator coil. This component of the air conditioner transfers (evaporates) heat from the inside to the outside of your the Niagara Region area home. There are two primary reasons the evaporator coil may freeze:

  1. Restricted air flow
  2. Insufficient refrigerant

Either way, the ending effect is that the air conditioner's evaporator coil does not properly disperse the heat, and in effect 'overcools' itself. The impact of this super-cooling is condensation (that's water formation), and eventually ice forms from that condensation as it cools below the freezing point. In short, the A/C just turned into an old-school icebox.

What Should You Do When Your A/C Freezes?

  1. Turn the A/C completely off at the thermostat, and do not increase the thermostat temperature as a way to melt the frost on the coils. Ensure the A/C system is completely OFF.
  2. Confirm that there is nothing restricting the airflow to the system. Replace the furnace or air handler's filter and replace any return air filters. Open all the registers completely and confirm that they are not impeded by furniture or drapery.
  3. Call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. The air conditioning system needs to be serviced by a professional that is NATE-certified to ensure there are no refrigerant leaks or damage to the equipment. Simply schedule a Performance Inspection or Repair Diagnostic online, or call to talk to a live person right away.

What Does it Cost to Repair?

This can turn into a pricey repair. When your air conditioner freezes over it can lead to a compressor replacement. Replacing your compressor could easily cost as much as a downpayment on a new system. Actually, many people are forced to pick between installing a new system vs repairing the damaged unit. If you move fast, follow the instructions, and call a NATE-certified technician, you have better odds of getting a less expensive emergency.

Your technician will advise you of the exact cause and how to avoid the issue from repeating in the future. If a leak is present (and that is rare, but possible), the leak has to be repaired or the unit will most likely freeze again.
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