How to Fix a Frozen Air Conditioner 

Summer’s coming (believe it or not) and here’s an often cited scenario with the average homeowner: They’re relaxing in their living room, minding their own business, enjoying a bowl of popcorn and watching their favorite TV show, when all of a sudden – that distant dreadful sound; drip… drip… drip. They glance over to see the household pet licking at a puddle that’s slowly forming on the kitchen floor. Just like that, the mood changes: Anxiety, stress, and that ”oh brother!” feeling. How did the leak start?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? Nope – the air conditioning equipment may be frozen. This can happen anywhere, from Philadelphia to Timbuktu, regardless of climate.

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 Philadelphia area home. Usually there are two factors why the evaporator coil may freeze:

    1. Restricted air flow
    1. Lack of sufficient refrigerant

Either way, the outcome is that the air conditioner’s evaporator coil cannot operate to properly transfer heat, and in essence ‘overcools’ itself. The result of this super-cooling is condensation (that’s water formation), and finally ice forms from that condensation as it cools below the freezing point. In short, the A/C transformed into an old-school icebox.

What Should You Do When Your A/C Freezes?

    • 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. It is important that the A/C system is completely OFF.
    • 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 ensure that they are not impeded by furniture or drapes.

What Does it Cost to Repair?

This can become an expensive repair. When your AC freezes over it can lead to a compressor replacement. Replacing your compressor can cost as much as a downpayment on a high efficiency model. Actually, many homeowners are forced to choose between installing a new system or repairing the damaged one. If you follow the steps above and quickly call a ACE-certified technician, you have better odds of getting a less expensive repair.

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