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What Causes an Air Conditioner to Freeze Up?

Frozen air conditioner outside of Cayman Islands' home.

Does your home feel warmer than it used to all of a sudden? Did you turn the thermostat down but feel no change in your indoor climate? Curious to see what’s going on, you might take it upon yourself to inspect your outdoor AC unit just to find that — gasp — it’s frozen solid in a block of ice!

Unless you have a background in HVAC, you may be wondering why your air conditioner is freezing up in the middle of summer. Believe it or not, it’s more common than you might imagine! And it doesn’t mean you have to get rid of your current unit in favor of a new AC installation. Frozen air conditioners can be repaired. But first, let’s take a look at what’s causing your air conditioner to freeze up in the first place. 

Poor Airflow

Lack of airflow can be detrimental to your AC unit’s performance — and may even be one of the reasons why your air conditioner is freezing up

Air ducts play the important role of circulating air in your home. They are not only responsible for the crisp, cool air blowing out of your vents but also for extracting heat from indoor air. This heat blows over the evaporator coils preventing them from freezing. Clogged or dirty filters or damaged air ducts can interfere with the flow of air. As a result, the cold refrigerant cools down the coils until they freeze.

You probably won’t notice your AC unit freezing until it’s covered in ice. Thankfully, a good HVAC technician can figure out what’s causing the air conditioner to freeze up and provide a proper solution. You can avoid this issue in the first place by having a regular air conditioning maintenance plan. 

Dirty Air Filter

It’s best practice to replace air filters every 30-90 days, but where you fall on this range depends on a few factors.

Here in the Cayman Islands, our air conditioning systems are running quite often to keep our homes comfortable. This means filters may get dirty quicker. If you or anyone in your home suffer from allergies or asthma this is another reason to replace filters more often.

Filters can get clogged if you wait too long between replacements, which leads to poor airflow and may be what causes your air conditioner to freeze up

Low Refrigerant

Are you wondering why your air conditioner is freezing up while warm air spews out of your vents? It sounds like you have low refrigerant in the unit. 

Refrigerant is the fluid that absorbs heat from the air inside your home and carries it through the copper pipes to be dispelled outside. In order for your AC system to function properly, it must contain just the right amount of refrigerant. Too much refrigerant can flood the compressor and damage internal parts; not enough refrigerant can cause the pressure to drop inside the air conditioning unit. As a result, the temperature in the evaporator coils dips below freezing, and any water vapor on the coils turns to ice.

The other thing to remember about refrigerant is that it never runs out, evaporates, or expires. You most likely have a refrigerant leak that’s causing your air conditioner to freeze up — and your family to sweat. Get in touch with an HVAC technician to see if your refrigerant levels are low. 

Faulty Blower Motor

There’s no airflow without a functional blower motor and fan. These components work in tandem to circulate air throughout the air conditioning system. When the fan stops working, it interrupts the cycle of removing hot air from your house. The result is that the refrigerant gets too cold causing the air conditioner to freeze up and no cool air to blow from the vent. If you don’t feel any cool air come out of the vents at all, you might have a faulty blower motor or fan. 

Polar Bear Can Fix Your Frozen Air Conditioner!

There’s no reason why your air conditioner should be freezing up in the middle of summer. If this is disrupting your home comfort, get in touch with the comfort consultants at Polar Bear as soon as possible. We make quick work of AC repairs to have you feeling cool and comfortable in no time.


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