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Why Air Conditioners Freeze and What You Can Do to Fix the Problem

An Air Conditioner With a Remote
If your air conditioner isn't working correctly, such as blowing warm air, it's possible the unit has frozen. While it may seem like freezing is a good thing when it comes to air conditioners, this actually isn't what you want to have happened to your system. Below is more information about air conditioning system freeze-ups and how you can prevent them from occurring.

Why Air Conditioners Freeze

Air conditioner freeze ups occur at the evaporator coil. This key component is where heat is pulled from the passing air into the refrigerant, leaving drier and cooler air free to enter your home. Should something interfere with the flow of heat into the refrigerant, freezing is a real possibility.
An air conditioner functions best when the heat exchange process happens quickly. Too often, however, the evaporator coil becomes dirty due to extended use without cleaning. This blanket of dust, pet dander, fur, and other tiny particles trapped by the coil insulates the coil from the passing air. As a result, condensation forms on the coil and freezes due to the low temperatures.
Likewise, if you don't regularly change your air conditioner filter, your system can also freeze up due to lack of air flow. Clogged filters slow down the air as it passes over the evaporator coil, and this prevents it from absorbing heat rapidly enough. As a consequence, the condensation that forms on the evaporator coil will freeze.
Far from helping cool your home, the ice layer actually insulates the coil even more from passing air which makes the problem worse. The vicious cycle becomes difficult to break without intervention from the homeowner or an air conditioning technician.

How to Prevent Your Air Conditioner from Freezing

The best policy to follow when it comes to air conditioner freeze ups is preventing them altogether. That is why preventative maintenance becomes important to keeping your air conditioning working smoothly.
The first thing you should do to prevent air conditioner freeze ups is to change the air filter regularly. Depending on the type of air filter in use, it may need to be changed as often as once per month, in the case of spun glass filters, or once every two to three months if the filter is pleated paper or cloth.
When changing your air conditioner filter, be sure also to clean the return vent grille to remove excess lint and dust. In addition, take a look inside the return duct and use a shop vacuum to remove any accumulated material.
Finally, another important maintenance step is to clean the evaporator coil itself. The evaporator coil is inside the air handler, which is the indoor unit of your air conditioning system. Access to the air handler may be challenging, depending upon where it is inside your home, so it may be best to contact a professional air conditioning service company for help with cleaning the coil.
Should you wish to clean the coil yourself, be sure to use only an approved coil cleaning solution, and be careful not to do any damage to the delicate fins surrounding the coil. Always disconnect the electricity before performing any work on the system.

What to Do If Your Air Conditioner Freezes

If your air conditioner freezes up, the first thing to do is turn the system off and allow it to thaw. Attempting to run the air conditioner while frozen could potentially cause damage and will not solve the problem.
Next, replace the filter and have the evaporator coil cleaned as discussed earlier to resolve the problem. If your air conditioner continues to freeze up, contact a reputable service company for assistance. If you reside in the Permian Basin area, be sure to contact Mega Air Conditioning • Heating & Electrical for help. Their team of professionals is ready and able to provide permanent solutions to your air conditioner freezing problem.
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